Laken Riley murder: Suspect Jose Ibarra not seeking bond


The man accused of killing 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student Laken Hope Riley on the University of Georgia campus in Athens has decided not to seek bond.

A motion to defer bail determination was filed with the Athens-Clarke County court on Feb. 29. 

Riley was brutally murdered during her morning run on Feb. 22. Her body was found by police shortly after she was reported missing by a friend in a wooded area near Lake Herrick and UGA's intramural fields.


On Friday, a man named Jose Antonio Ibarra from Venezuela, who entered the country illegally in 2022 and was living in Athens, was arrested for her murder. He was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another. Police confirmed on Friday evening that Riley died from blunt force trauma.

The Athens-Clarke County Coroner officially attributed Riley's death to blunt force trauma to the head on Monday.

Jose Ibarra's prior encounters with police in Athens

FOX 5 has learned this isn't Ibarra's first encounter with law enforcement in Athens. 

On Wednesday, we obtained a field report from Athens-Clarke County police from October 2022, when both Ibarra and his brother Deigo were charged with shoplifting from a Walmart. 

Immigration attorney Eduardo Soto said police generally check any arrestees' immigration status, but since the shoplifting charge was a misdemeanor, both brothers were cited and released on the scene. 

Immigration status confirmed

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed on Sunday that Jose Ibarra entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 near El Paso, Texas, and was previously arrested in New York City in 2023. Ibarra's wife told the New York Post that she has known Jose her entire life and claimed he was a calm person who was not aggressive.

Ibarra's brother, Diego Ibarra, was also arrested during the search for Riley's killer. Diego Ibarra reportedly presented authorities with a fake green card. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Macon. 

Mayor defends the city

The mayor of Athens-Clarke County says the county is taking steps to address safety concerns after the tragic murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley on the University of Georgia's campus. Mayor Kelly Girtz says he will ask county commissioners to approve multiple initiatives aimed at making the metro area safer at Tuesday's meeting. 

Girtz also defended the city. Since Riley's death, Athens has been thrust into the national debate over immigration, with some state officials saying that the county's alleged "sanctuary city" status was to blame. Girtz says that Athens is not a sanctuary city and has cautioned against conflating immigration with crime. 

Funeral for Laken Hope Riley

A visitation will be held for Laken Hope Riley from noon until 2 p.m. March 1 at Woodstock City Church, according to her online obituary. The funeral will follow at 2 p.m. Poole Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Woodstock. 

RELATED: What we know about Laken Riley

Riley attended UGA before transferring to the Augusta University nursing program in Athens.