Television bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman, who had his reality show taken off the air after getting caught using a racial slur, will not be extradited to Mexico to face a pending appeal of kidnapping charges against him, a judge ruled Monday.
The U.S. government had been trying to send Chapman, his son Leland Chapman and a third man to the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, where they were charged with kidnapping Andrew Luster, a Max Factor heir who had jumped a $1 million bond on charges that he drugged and raped three women.
Luster’s disappearance during his trial in California set off an international manhunt by police, FBI and bounty hunters trying to recoup some of the bond money. In June 2003, Chapman and the others apprehended Luster, and the fugitive was taken back to the United States to serve the 124-year sentence he was given while on the lam.
But because bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, prosecutors in that country charged the three with kidnapping and asked U.S. authorities to arrest the trio and ship them to Puerto Vallarta.
A Mexican judge dismissed the kidnapping charges in July, ruling that Mexican prosecutors had taken too long in their attempts to bring the trio to trial. But Mexican prosecutors appealed the ruling, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Honolulu, where the senior Chapman lives, declined to dismiss the extradition proceedings pending the outcome.
Still, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren in Honolulu on Monday dismissed the extradition attempt because the judge said the three are no longer charged with any offenses, despite the appeal.
“I don’t think they have any regrets whatsoever in facilitating the capture of Mr. Luster, who is a known and convicted rapist,” his San Francisco lawyer, James Quadra, said Monday. “Though this has been a difficult process, they are proud of what they have done.”
Co-counsel Brook Hart said in Honolulu that Chapman and his wife, “while very appreciative of the court’s ruling, are not celebrating today” in light of the tempest created by his use of racial epithets.
A&E pulled Chapman’s show “Dog the Bounty Hunter” from the air indefinitely after a private phone conversation between the reality star and his son was posted online.
Chapman, 54, has been under fire since The National Enquirer posted an audio clip of Chapman using a slur repeatedly in reference to his son’s black girlfriend. Chapman apologized and vowed to never utter the word again, but at least two advertisers have pulled out from the show, and civil rights groups have called for its cancellation.
“He’s very regretful and remorseful,” Hart said at a news conference Monday. “He’s committed to making his best efforts not to speak offensively in any context of anyone.”