A study in perseverance of justice.
Air Force Pilot Found Dead
As a thriller writer, it’s not a stretch to say that Dateline Friday is my favorite night of the week. But 48 Hours recently caught my attention with an episode that focussed on murdered Air Force pilot Karl Hoerig, who was found shot to death in Newton Falls, Ohio. I have family in Newton Falls so you can imagine my excitement to see the small town featured on the show.
In March 2007, Karl Hoerig’s body was found inside his house (a few houses down from my grandmother’s). His wife–Brazilian citizen Claudia Hoerig–had already emptied his bank accounts and boarded a flight to Brazil. It was clear who had done it.
Brazilian law makes it incredibly difficult to extradite Brazilian citizens, so for the time being, Claudia was safe. She started a new life, married again, and built her own accounting business.
Credit has to be given to Congressman Tim Ryan, who petitioned the Brazilian government relentlessly, and Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Andrew Logan, who on April 12, 2007, issued an arrest warrant for Claudia. And of course, Karl’s family, who never gave up.
The crux of their fight was that Claudia was not a Brazilian citizen. She had renounced her citizenship in 1999 when she
became a naturalized American citizen. To the prosecutors in the United States, this meant Claudia could be cleared for extradition. And in 2013, Brazilian courts agreed.
The Brazilian justice system, however, offers essentially limitless appeals. So for three years, Claudia remained in a Brazilian penitentiary, the conditions of which are much more comfortable than American prisons.
A Long Battle…
The situation looked bleak. Her case swam its way all the way to the Brazilian Supreme Court, which in 2016, ruled the revocation of her citizenship was legal. On Wednesday, January 17th, 2018, Claudia Hoerig was finally arraigned in a Trumbull County court for the murder of Karl Hoerig in 2007. Claudia Hoerig pleaded not guilty to the aggravated murder indictment.
Justice can often be a slow endeavor but it’s stories like these that remind us to never give up on it.
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