CROWN POINT | After about four years on the run, a Texas man charged with molesting an 11-year-old Highland girl turned himself in to Lake County authorities.
Controversy had been swirling over the case of Enrique Marks Jr. since Brownsville, Texas, police arrested him on a Lake County child molestation warrant in October -- and then set him free when Lake County authorities declined to extradite him, citing budget constraints.
Last week, following reports in The Times about Marks' release from Texas police custody, Lake County Commissioner Fran DuPey vowed the County Board of Commissioners would pay for the cost of transporting Marks back to the Lake County jail to face the justice system.
DuPey learned Tuesday that Lake County can keep its money. Marks traveled to Crown Point from Texas, turning himself in at the Lake County Jail on Sunday, authorities confirmed.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell said Marks had his initial hearing in her courtroom Tuesday. Boswell set Marks' bond at $20,000 and expected he would be released to the custody of a local family member pending trial.
Court records indicate Marks posted bond Tuesday and would be required to wear an electronic ankle monitor as he awaits further proceedings in the case.
Word of Marks having surrendered -- after avoiding prosecution for the past few years -- was welcomed by the Highland mother of the girl Marks is alleged to have molested.
"I hope justice is finally served," the woman said Tuesday. "It's almost surreal. I can't believe this has finally happened."
She said justice has been long delayed in the case.
Lake County court records indicate Texas police stopped Marks on the Lake County warrant in 2009, but let him go when the county declined to extradite him, citing the 1,400-plus-mile distance as a factor. Then, when Brownsville police arrested Marks in October -- and local authorities again declined to bring him back -- the woman said her heart broke.
The victim's mother said Tuesday she now hopes Marks will admit to the charge in court, pleading guilty rather than putting his alleged victim, who is a relative of Marks, through the toils of a trial.
"He needs to take responsibility for what he did," she said.
Marks' Crown Point defense attorney, Joseph Roberts, said his client contacted him in October shortly after Marks' arrest by Brownsville police. Roberts said Marks has been discussing turning himself in to Lake County authorities since shortly after that arrest.
"He didn't choose to not be extradited," Roberts said. "But he did make the choice to voluntarily turn himself in."
Roberts declined to comment on the allegations in the case.