HONOLULU – Television bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman is waiting to hear whether a Mexican federal court will set him free or order his pending extradition and criminal case to proceed.
The 53-year-old bounty hunter is charged under Mexican law with "deprivation of liberty" for his June 2003 capture of fugitive convicted rapist Andrew Luster, the Max Factor cosmetics heir, in Puerto Vallarta.
"Inside, I'm dying," Chapman said in an interview with The Associated Press at his spacious ocean-view home. "On the outside, I'm a Hawaiian citizen."
His attorney, William Boller, will present arguments starting Monday. Chapman will not attend the closed hearing in Guadalajara.
"We consider this a critical hearing because it could resolve the matter," Boller said. "We're putting a lot of eggs in this basket because if we can cut it off at the path, the (criminal) trial never takes place."
Chapman was arrested Sept. 14 along with his son and another associate and is free on $300,000 bail. He has been aggressively fighting extradition.
"It's been the most nervous week by far in many years," he told the AP. "In Mexico, you're guilty until proven innocent. It's not like America. You must prove your innocence. That's their law. It's nothing bad or good. That's just their law."
Chapman faces up to four years in a Mexican jail if convicted.
"It's very ironic isn't it?" said his wife, Beth Chapman. "He may go to jail for catching a rapist. We're in trouble because we caught America's escaped prisoner."
Chapman's capture of Luster catapulted the Honolulu-based bounty hunter to fame and led to the A&E reality series "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
Luster jumped a $1 million bond and disappeared during his trial in California's Ventura County on charges that he drugged and raped three women. The disappearance set off a national and international manhunt by police, FBI and bounty hunters trying to recoup some of the bond money. Luster is now serving a 124-year prison term.
Chapman said he was never paid for Luster's capture.