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Jailed Marine's mother hires 'rock star' Mexican defense attorney

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The mother of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi,jailed in Mexico since March 31, has hired a “rock star” defense attorney for her son – his third lawyer in as many weeks.

Jill Tahmooressi, said Wednesday that following the advice of California defense attorney Phil Dunn, she has hired Mexican attorney Fernando Benitez Alvarez del Castillo.

"I'm comfortable that I now have a competent attorney to represent Andrew," Tahmooressi told Foxnews.com.

Dunn has assumed the role of consigliere for Tahmooressi after two previous failed attempts at lawyers. The first one, Alejandro Osuna, was fired the night before the Marine’s first court appearance May 28 for allegedly instructing him to tell the judge he had never been to Mexico before, which was not true.

The second attorney, Lamberto Esquer, hired shortly afterwards, never even got out of the gate before Tahmooressi said she lost confidence in him.

"I obviously don't know how to pick Mexican attorneys, and that's why I'm grateful to now have Phil Dunn's help," Tahmooressi said.

FernandoBenitez has a 17-year proven defense track record with some high-profile cases, including representing Jorge Hank Rhon,former Tijuana mayor and current owner of the Xolos soccer team.

He was placed under house arrest for weapons charges in June of 2011.Weapons found at his home had been used in three murders, one of which was the 1988 assassination of journalist "El Gato" Felix.He had also been suspected of having his son's girlfriend murdered.

Hank Rhon was detained in a Tecate prison, the same one where Tahmooressi currently is held, in June 2011. Fernando Benitez, Hank Rhon's attorney at the time, was quoted as saying the arrest was not valid because there was no search warrant, and as such all evidence obtained therefrom was inadmissible.

The Mexican army had done the warrantless search on Hank Rhon's compound based on admissions by arrestees who said they obtained their weapons from Hank Rhon's compound. The soldiers said they "saw" men entering Hank Rhon's compound with the weapons.

At the time of the raid on the Hank Rhon compound, Mexican Army troops found 40 rifles, 48 handguns, only 10 of which he had permits for, and 9,250 rounds of ammunition.

The judge ruled that because there was no warrant for the raid, all evidence was inadmissible and the charges were dropped.

“Fernando Benitez Alvarez Castillo is pretty much a rock star defense attorney because of this case, so choosing him would make sense," said Bart Santos, a private investigator in California who is a friend of Tahmooressi.

Tahmooressi said she hopes the process will now accelerate beyond its glacial pace since her son was arrested March 31 for making a wrong turn into Mexico with three legally purchased weapons in his truck.

He had been in the San Diego area for treatment of combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He did two tours in Afghanistan, one of which garnered him a battlefield promotion to sergeant, and also survived a devastating IED attack on his fighting vehicle.

According to Tahmooressi, she learned from the federal court in Tijuana that the previous two attorneys never filed any defense-related evidence to be placed in her son’s file.

"The judge placed an order to expedite this case," Tahmooressi said.

Tahmooressi said she does not know when new hearing dates will be scheduled.

 

Joseph J. Kolb is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino.

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