Supporters of Marine combat veteran jailed in Mexico rally for h - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Supporters of Marine combat veteran jailed in Mexico rally for his freedom

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A Marine finally had his day in court Wednesday after being jailed in Mexico about two months ago. Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested when he claims he accidentally drove across the border with guns.

Tahmooressi crossed into Mexico with three guns in his truck, which is illegal. He claims he made a wrong turn at the border crossing because of confusing signs. Mexican officials say he entered the line marked "nothing to declare" at the San Ysidro Border Crossing. He was visiting a friend in Mexico and admits having a girlfriend in Tijuana.

CBS News 8 learned that Tahmooressi's attorney was removed from the case during his first court appearance. His mother, Jill Tahmooressi, told CBS News 8 that he claimed the attorney asked him to lie and say he'd never been to Mexico before. Now, it could take weeks before he is appointed a new lawyer in Mexico.

In the meantime, he must return to jail near Tecate until his next hearing before a judge.

"He said mom I'm not going to make it, there are hit men here and they want to murder me," Tahmooressi's mother said.

He was arrested March 31 and he has been behind bars for two months. But his family wants his immediate release and thousands of people have signed an online petition and protestors held a rally at the Mexican border Wednesday in his support.

If Tahmooressi is convicted, he faces six to 21 years in a Mexican prison, according to his lawyers. Or the case could be dropped by the Mexican attorney general's office in Mexico City.

California Congressman Duncan Hunter is calling for action, and he has contacted Mexican officials to expedite the Marine's release. He even called the defense secretary to request suspension of military training and assistance to Mexico.

Tahmooressi served four years in the Marines, including two tours in Afghanistan. He says he was honorably discharged in November 2012. Tahmooressi recently moving to San Diego from Florida in January for a fresh start.

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