May 30, 2013 9:30 PM by Lorraine Rivera
NOGALES - The Goodyear woman held in a prison facility in Nogales, Sonora says she is hopeful she will be released Friday.
Yanira Maldonado was arrested at a military checkpoint outside of Hermosillo, Sonora last Wednesday. Mexican authorities say soldiers found 12 pounds of marijuana strapped to the bottom of the seat where she had been sitting. Maldonado was riding in a Tufesa bus, she and her husband Gary boarded the bus in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The couple was returning to the U.S. from a funeral.
Hearings took place Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday a judge will decide whether or not the drug possession charges should go to trial. Family members and fellow passengers who boarded the bus testified they saw Yanira board the bus with only a purse and suitcase.
The Mexican soldiers who reportedly found the marijuana were expected to testify at a hearing Wednesday but never showed up. Sources say that could indicate the case against Yanira gets thrown out. On Thursday, the bus company Tufesa provided surveillance video of Yanira and Gary boarding the bus. The video was not released to the media.
The 42-year-old has maintained her innocence. Yanira's family and friends say she is a mother of seven and grandmother of two. She and Gary married last year; their one year anniversary was this past Saturday. Yanira says she is a devout Mormon who is not giving up on her faith.
On Wednesday, Yanira spoke with members of the media in English and Spanish. She said she was removed from the general population and was being treated well.
A spokeswoman for the State Department spoke about Yanira's case Thursday, "I just want to reiterate that we've been in close contact with her family. She has been in close contact with her family, and she's had access in person but also on the phone to counsel representatives throughout this process. We are seeing the legal process through... the next step just so everybody is aware is that the judge will review the case Friday, May 31st, which is tomorrow. We've been in contact with appropriate Mexican authorities. I can't speculate on what will come out of there -- I would send you to Mexican authorities on that."
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