Diego Ibarra, brother of murder suspect in Laken Riley's UGA campus death, appears in court

Update: Diego Ibarra made his first court appearance on Monday in Macon. The U.S. magistrate judge ordered a standard preliminary hearing regarding probable cause and the government's motion to detail at 10 a.m. March 7. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Morrison is prosecuting the case.


The brother of the suspected killer of a nursing student on UGA's campus will make his first appearance in federal court on Monday.

Diego Ibarra is charged with possession of a fraudulent document after being caught with a fake green card.

Athens-Clarke County police officers approached him on Feb. 23 for matching the description of a murder suspect when he presented officers with the fraudulent document and was placed under arrest.


Diego's brother, Jose Ibarra, is facing several charges, including malice murder in the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley on UGA's campus. ICE says Jose entered the country illegally from Venezuela in 2022.

Diego was arrested by Athens-Clarke County Police three times since September 2022 for DUI and driving without a license, shoplifting, and failure to appear.

Jose was also arrested by Athens-Clarke County Police for shoplifting and a previous arrest in New York.


The case has sparked a national debate about immigration.

On Face the Nation, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said they were not informed of Jose Ibarra's prior arrests before Laken Riley was killed.

"Different cities have different levels of cooperation. We were not notified in this instance," Mayorkas said on Sunday.

"We firmly believe that if a city is aware of an individual who poses a threat to public safety, then we would request that they provide us with that information so that we can ensure that that individual is detained if the facts so warrant," he added.

On Wednesday, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz faced criticism for a perceived sanctuary city status after Athens adopted a resolution in 2019 welcoming immigrants of all statuses. But Girtz says Georgia does not allow for sanctuary cities.

"There's been no legislation from this government that has created sanctuary city status," Girtz said.

If convicted of having the fake green card, Diego Ibarra could face up to 10 years behind bars.