SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - Nery Israel Estrada-Margos' is accused of killing his 42-year-old girlfriend Veronica Cabrera Ramirez last Friday inside her apartment on Russell Avenue.
Candles sit by her front door. Neighbors say they never thought anything like this would happen.
"Quiet, kept to herself, raised two girls...It's pretty terrible. It wasn't anything we were expecting," said neighbor Jeff Brockett.
But while neighbors may have been surprised, Estrada-Margos had been on the radar of ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"He was one of the people ice asked to be notified upon his release," said Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano.
About two weeks before the homicide, Santa Rosa police arrested Estrada-Margos for domestic battery after he allegedly beat the same girlfriend he would later be charged with killing.
After he was booked for battery, ICE asked the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department to contact them when Estrada-Margos posted bail.
The sheriff's department complied. But ICE never picked him up.
"We did notify ICE of his release date and time. Somtimes they pick up, sometimes they don't," said Giordano.
Despite a restraining order against him, Estrada-Margos returned to his girlfriend's apartment. 16 days later she was dead. Authorities say he has confessed to killing her.
The sheriff says despite Ramirez' death he doesn't believe any agencies dropped the ball.
"It is too complex to turn this into what ICE did or didn't do. ICE could have released him because they couldn't hold him," said Giordano.
Estrada-Margos made a brief court appearance Tuesday, which was continued.
Estrada-Margos is due back in court Thursday were he could be formally charged with murder.
ICE issued a statement Tuesday evening. It said that the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department notified ICE only 16 minutes before releasing him, and that was not sufficient time to pick him up.
It also said the vast majority of calls from the county over the past six months have failed to provide adequate time for ICE agents.
"This case underscores yet again why immigration detainers are such a crucial enforcement tool and why it is highly problematic, and even tragic, when jurisdictions choose not to comply."
The statement also said Estrada-Margos is from Guatemala who entered the U.S. Illegally, and was deported in 2008.