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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

NewsOK.com | Dead man's family seeking answers

NewsOK.com | Powered by The Oklahoman and NEWS 9
Dead man's family seeking answers

By Doug Warner
NEWS9

A metro family had hoped to spend tonight celebrating their son's birthday.
Instead they spend it mourning his death.

In a News 9 exclusive, we told you about 24-year-old John LeGate last week, and how he was found dead inside a Mexican jail cell after a weekend getaway.

New tonight, his family and the American Consulate are in a search for answers.

Doug Warner joins us with the details.

A weekend ago, John and his roommate traveled to Texas but then decided to make a quick trip into Mexico, maybe two hours at the most, to the border town of Nuevo Laredo.

Those two hours turned into two horrific days.

Tonight we hear from John's father (John Legate) as we learn more about his son's final hours.

John was his only son, and he feels fortunate his family was even able to bring his body back home for burial.

But the more he learns, and waits to learn about what happened two weekends ago, he's certain of at least one thing.

"I feel like someone's accountable for his death," Legate said.

We told you before how 24-year-old John and his roommate Ryan McCullar were arrested, allegedly robbed by officers, then thrown into jail.

Before being taken away to another jail himself, Ryan says he was fearful his good friend was getting very sick.

John's dad feels the same, because John was a diabetic.

The American Consulate has told them that no alcohol or drugs were found in their son's system, that John's insulin shots were not in his possession, and, surprisingly, that John was released from jail on Saturday, driven to the border by American officials and told to go home.

But for some reason, he didn't.

John was reportedly later found in a Nuevo Laredo neighborhood, and re-arrested on disturbance charges.

The consulate this time wasn't notified of his arrest until after he was found dead in his cell.

Legate fears his son's lack of insulin caused his alleged erratic behavior, but he says it's no reason to be thrown into jail and left for dead.

"We're taking care of people that cross our borders illegally better than my son was treated -- yeah, I'm bitter about that," Legate said.

John's family tells us the American Consulate is looking into whether their son may have been beaten while in Mexican custody.

John, who would have turned 25 today, was laid to rest this past Friday -- now his parents can only warn others about the dangers that they say exist along Mexican border towns.

The American Consulate is also looking into claims McCullar's parents were forced to pay $3,000 for their son's safe return, money they call a ransom payment.

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