January 23, 2015
The Honorable Adam Paul Laxalt
Attorney General, State of Nevada
100 N. Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
Dear Attorney General Laxalt:
On June 25, 1990, FBI Special Agent John L. Bailey, an exceptional investigator, respected colleague, former Marine, loving husband, and father of two, became the 29th FBI Special Agent to die in the line of duty. His name, along with those of other slain Agents, is listed on our Hall of Honor. His photo is displayed in every FBI office throughout the United States, and the Las Vegas FBI office is named in his honor.
This letter is prompted by recent legal actions in this case. Agent Bailey’s heroic sacrifice to our Nation must never be forgotten. Speaking on behalf of over 8000 current and former FBI Agents of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, we ask you to take any and all necessary steps to safeguard the legacy of Agent Bailey’s bravery and service.
In 1991, Jose Echavarria was found guilty in Nevada of the first-degree murder of Agent Bailey, as well as burglary, attempted robbery, escape, and conspiracy. He was sentenced to death. We recently learned that United States District Court Judge Miranda Du granted a motion by Echavarria for a new trial. The court ordered Echavarria to be released from custody in 60 days, unless you file a notice of intention to retry him. We now understand that, in response, the Nevada State Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal to overturn Judge Du’s order, and her decision has been stayed pending appellate review.
Almost twenty-five years later, the circumstances of this case remain well-known to our members and to the 35,000 current employees of the FBI. On that fateful morning, Echavarria, disguised as a woman, attempted to rob the Security Pacific Bank of Las Vegas. He had previously cased the bank and determined no guards were present. After entering the bank, he pointed a gun at a teller who unexpectedly screamed. At that very moment, Agent Bailey entered the bank to serve a subpoena. Alerted by the teller’s scream, he confronted, restrained, and disarmed the fleeing gunman. He frisked Echavarria and removed a wallet from his pocket and then fatefully, he turned to tell a bank employee to call the FBI. During those few seconds, Echavarria knocked Agent Bailey to the ground, retrieved his gun, and shot him three times at point blank range. Echavarria, identified by the wallet he left behind, fled to Mexico where he was arrested the following day. He was later extradited to the U.S.
On behalf of our members, we implore you to ensure that Echavarria is held accountable for his actions. To grant freedom to Agent Bailey’s murderer would be an incomprehensible travesty of justice that would resonate throughout the entire law enforcement community.
To this day, John Bailey’s widow, his children and his countless friends and associates continue to mourn the tragic passing of a talented, intelligent, energetic and patriotic FBI agent. Please help us keep that memory alive by ensuring that John did not die in vain. Jose Echavarria must pay the price for the heinous crime he committed. He must never become a free man.
Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI