Immigrant accused of killing store clerk over cigarettes was out on bond

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Apolinar Altamirano By Mike Gertzman Apolinar Altamirano By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Federal authorities say an immigrant accused of killing a Phoenix-area convenience store clerk over a pack of cigarettes was out on bond and awaiting deportation hearings.

Apolinar Altamirano, 29, pleaded guilty in 2012 to a burglary charge but did not serve time in prison. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took Altamirano into custody on Jan. 3, 2013, after learning of his conviction in Maricopa County in Arizona. But after reviewing his case, ICE found he was eligible for bond, a spokeswoman said in a statement issued Monday.

"After reviewing his immigration and criminal history, which showed only this conviction, ICE determined that under applicable law Mr. Altamirano was eligible for bond. Mr. Altamirano posted a $10,000 bond on January 7, 2013. Mr. Altamirano's removal case was still pending with the immigration courts at the time of his most recent arrest," the statement said.

Altamirano was free on bond when two injunctions against harassment were issued against him in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. An injunction against harassment is similar to a protection order.

In one order, a woman accused Altamirano of threatening to kill her several times and of pointing a gun at her boyfriend.

The last order was issued against Altamirano on Jan. 14.

Altamirano is now facing a first-degree murder charge, among others, after the shooting death of 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck last week.

Police say the suspect dumped change on the counter from a jar to pay for cigarettes while repeatedly telling Ronnebeck, "You're not gonna give me my cigarettes." Then, the assailant pulled out a gun and repeated the same statement - even as Ronnebeck tried to hand him a pack - before opening fire.

The victim was shot in the face.

Altamirano was arrested after a pursuit across much of the Phoenix area that ended with a crash. In arguing against bail, the prosecutor cited the fact that the suspect is in the country illegally and has a criminal record.

Police searched his car after the killing and found a 9 mm handgun, two packs of Marlboros and several casings of ammunition.

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