A man arrested at the Mexican border Tuesday after allegedly being caught with the body of a 2-year-old girl stuffed in a duffel bag was previously convicted of a slew of crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, having drugs with the intent to sell them and being a felon in possession of a gun, The Los Angeles Times reported.
SDPD: Couple tried to cross border with toddler's body. Police arrested Johnny Hartley and Mercy Becerra of Whittier pic.twitter.com/cfoQOGJduY— Kandiss Crone (@10NewsCrone) August 10, 2016
John Lewis Hartley, 39, and Mercy Mary Becerra, 43, were arrested by Mexican authorities while trying to cross into Tijuana from the U.S. side of the border. Officials said they discovered the infant’s corpse using an X-ray machine. The suspects, who sported tattoos on their faces in widely circulated photos, were deported back to the U.S.
The cause of the girl’s death hasn’t been determined, but police told The Times it was unlikely she died a natural death. Hartley and Becerra are not the girl’s parents, officials said.
Hartley’s criminal record in Orange County stretches back to 1999, The Times reported.
He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and possessing, manufacturing or selling a deadly weapon – with a gang enhancement added – in 1999 and was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. He did the same amount of time after being convicted several years later for possessing drugs with the intent to sell and possessing drug paraphernalia.
Hartley served three years in state prison after he pleaded guilty in 2010 to being a felon in possession of a firearm – again, with a gang enhancement added.
Becerra pleaded guilty in 1992 to selling or transporting a controlled substance and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of probation.
Investigators said they expected to charge both with one count of murder pending the outcome of the infant’s autopsy.