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Posted: October 07, 2011

Conviction for Colotl?

By Veronica Waters

Atlanta, GA None —

The Kennesaw State University coed whose traffic ticket arrest led to a change in the way Georgia colleges admit students may face criminal conviction after all.

A Cobb County judge has ordered the case of illegal immigrant KSU grad Jessica Colotl back to square one. 

Colotl's 2010 arrest nearly got her deported. She was accused of lying to officers about her address when she was arrested for impeding the flow of traffic on the KSU campus, and also charged with driving without a license.  Federal authorities allowed her more time in the country to complete her political science degree. 

Months later, the state Board of Regents barred illegal immigrants from five select universities, including University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology.  At the colleges where they are allowed to attend, they must pay out-of-state tuition.

The Cobb County district attorney had agreed to allow Colotl into a pre-trial diversion program.  Participating would allow Colotl, a 23-year-old Mexico native, to avoid a criminal conviction for felony false swearing for allegedly lying to deputies about her address.

Now, Judge Mary Staley wants the DA and the sheriff to reconsider the acceptance into the program.  Sheriff Neal Warren is against allowing Colotl into it. 

"I don't think she deserves it," says Warren.  "I think it would send a bad message to the citizens.  Not only to the citizens of the United States, but anyone." 

Staley told reporters at the beginning of the hearing Friday that it was not her decision to put Colotl into the diversion program, and that once she read that Warren was against the idea, she thought he and District Attorney Pat Head should negotiate the case's resolution.

Colotl's attorney was displeased.

"Your Honor is essentially calling a press conference to disavow responsibility for this," said Jerome Lee.