California man convicted in mother's death arrested for probation violation in Mexican beach town

Ike Nicholas Souzer, 20, was convicted as a teenager for voluntary manslaughter in the death of his mother. His probation was based on a vandalism conviction.

The beach at Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico, in 2020.Guillermo Arias / AFP via Getty Images file

A California man convicted in the death of his mother was the subject of an "intense manhunt" and arrested in Mexico after walking away from a transitional facility without notice, authorities said this week.

Ike Nicholas Souzer, 20, was behind bars Friday after allegedly violating terms of probation, which mandate both that he inform his probation officer of his whereabouts and stay in the region, according to authorities and court documents.

Though Souzer's probation was based on a vandalism conviction, the office of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer warned the public on March 21, the day after he left a Santa Ana transitional facility: "This individual should be considered extremely dangerous and violent."

Souzer has a record of violence in his teenage years, including a conviction for voluntary manslaughter in the death of his mother, who was fatally stabbed when he was 13, and a conviction related to an attack on three jail guards when he was 17 or 18.

The DA's office also noted in a statement Wednesday, when it announced he was in custody, that in late 2022 Souzer was convicted of possession of a weapon — the office said it was a shank — while in custody.

Souzer was found in Playas de Rosarito, a coastal municipality south of Tijuana, the DA's office said. It credited Mexican authorities, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the office's own fugitive task force for the arrest.

"He set a plan in motion to flee to a foreign country in yet another attempt to escape the consequences of his actions," Spitzer said in his office's statement Wednesday.

The public defender's office, which has been assigned to defend Souzer in the past, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The DA's office acknowledged that a family member said during his juvenile court prosecution for manslaughter that Souzer was autistic and had a history of outbursts.

The DA's office said Souzer has a long history of crime and that when he attacked his mother, he was on home detainment and wearing a GPS monitor for another matter.

The office said Souzer violated probation when he left the supervision of the same transitional organization in 2022, when he was under mandatory GPS monitoring for the weapons conviction. The DA's task force found Souzer at the time at a homeless encampment, according to the statement on Wednesday.

Spitzer blamed judges in the county for issuing what he described as lax sentences in cases involving Souzer. The office wanted to try him as an adult in the death of his mother, it said, and it consistently asked for stricter sentences in his subsequent cases.

In those matters, judges allowed time served to be counted and gave Souzer credit for good behavior, according to the DA's office. The office called out specific judges by name.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Erica R. Yew, speaking as president of the California Judges Association, said state law generally favors treatment and rehabilitation over long sentences, which she said can lead to a "revolving door" of incarceration.

"Judges do their best to exercise their discretion to strike the right balance," she said by email. "It is easy to criticize when one does not carry the weight of these extremely challenging decisions. And such criticism fails to appreciate the excellent work done by judges day in and day out for hundreds of Californians accessing justice in our courts."

The DA's office also appeared to criticize a nonprofit, Project Kinship, for having "spent years advocating for Souzer’s release from custody."

The nonprofit organization runs the supervisory program and transitional facility from which Souzer left in 2022 and on March 20. It said it couldn’t comment on specific cases.

Founder and executive director Steve Kim said by email, "Project Kinship offers services like case management, counseling, and peer mentorship. We help individuals impacted by substance abuse, gangs, and incarceration."

He said it has had a positive influence on Orange County.

"Personally, I have not yet met an inherently evil person in our work — just lives shattered by trauma and mental health challenges, often leading to a loss of hope," he said. "Providing support and opportunities makes us all safer."