Suspect in courthouse shooting caught in Mexico, returned to U.S.
RENO, Nev. (AP) A wealthy former pawn shop owner, accused of killing his wife and shooting the judge handling their divorce, was back on U.S. soil Friday after 11 days on the lam before turning up along Mexicos posh resort coast, authorities said.Darren Mack, 45, surrendered at a hotel in the Pacific coast resort city of Puerto Vallarta on Thursday night. Mack, who was not armed, was taken into custody without incident, authorities said.A bearded Mack arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Friday morning and was taken into custody, said Reno Police Chief Michael Poehlman. He will be returned to Nevada after the extradition process, but no arrangements have been made yet to transfer Mack to Reno at this time, Poehlman said.Reno detectives flew to Dallas aboard the states jet early Friday.Though Mack voluntarily left Mexico and has said he will not fight extradition, authorities said he must appear before a magistrate in Texas before he can be returned to Nevada.Mack is charged with the murder of his estranged wife, Charla Mack, whose body was found in a pool of blood in his town house garage June 12, hours after Judge Chuck Weller was shot in the chest while standing by the window of his courthouse office. Mack also will be charged with attempted murder for the attack on Weller, who survived, Poehlman said.Macks Reno attorney, Scott Freeman said he and co-counsel David Chesnoff of Las Vegas are eager to begin a defense.Freeman, who arranged with the district attorneys office for Mack to turn himself in, said Mack chose to voluntarily surrender.He did so to be with his family, his children and to defend himself, Freeman said.It wasnt known how Mack traveled to Mexico or how long hes been there.Poehlman said investigators were still looking for a rented 2006 Ford Explorer he was driving for possible evidence.Macks surrender came after cooperation between the FBI and Mexican authorities, who established checkpoints and were searching buses and bus stations after learning Mack was traveling by public transportation, authorities said.The arrest of accused killer Darren Roy Mack proves that criminals cannot find a safe haven on either side of the border, Tony Garza, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.Poehlman said intense media coverage on both sides of the border helped investigators and persuaded Mack to turn himself in.We believe he was aware that things were tightening around him, Poehlman said.On Thursday, authorities said Mack was believed to be on Mexicos west coast and had been spotted by a swimming pool at a resort in Cabo San Lucas. He had arranged to surrender Thursday morning at the U.S. consulate in Puerto Vallarta, but didnt show up.Mack contacted Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick earlier this week and expressed a desire to surrender, according to Poehlman.Gammick said Macks lawyers called him about 5 p.m. Thursday, and new arrangements were made for his surrender later that night.Gammick, who has known Mack for 20 years, said no decision has been made on whether he will face a possible death sentence if convicted.Were not there yet, Gammick said, who will not handle the prosecution. This case will be handled like every other murder case in the county.Gammick said theres no evidence anyone else was involved in the stabbing of Charla Mack or the shooting of Weller, but authorities dont know if Mack had help fleeing the country.Weller was shot in the chest from three football fields away. He was released from the hospital last week and is recovering at an undisclosed location under guard.In a brief statement issued after Macks capture, Weller said he and his family are grateful this tragedy has been resolved in a peaceful manner without further bloodshed.A custody hearing in the Macks contentious divorce case was scheduled before Weller in September.Charla Macks mother, Soorya Townley, and brother, Christopher Broughton, planned a Friday afternoon news conference in Reno.Mack was a co-owner of Palace Jewelry & Loan Co. Inc., a pawn shop, until he turned over control in 2005 to his mother, a lawyer for the business said. Mack earned more than $500,000 a year and had a net worth of $9.4 million as recently as 2004, according to court documents.The FBI added Mack to its list of Most Wanted fugitives Tuesday, the same day Charla Mack, 39, was buried.A search warrant affidavit said officers found several boxes of ammunition and an empty gun case with a receipt for a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle equipped with a laser sighting device at Macks town house.