TUCSON, Ariz. — The Latest on the trial of a U.S. Border Patrol agent charged with the fatal cross-border shooting of a teenager. (all times local):
Defense lawyers for a Border Patrol agent charged in a cross-border shooting that killed a 16-year-old say the officer was justified in using deadly force against rock throwers working with drug smugglers.
Attorney Sean Chapman told the jurors in his opening statement in U.S. District Court on Wednesday that Lonnie Swartz was protecting himself and other agents when he fired across the international line in October 2012.
Chapman says teenager Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez put himself in danger by throwing rocks at the agents.
He says rocks thrown that night by several people in Nogales, Mexico into Nogales, Arizona hit another agent in the foot and also struck a police dog.
Chapman spoke after the lead prosecutor told the jury that the teenager didn’t deserve to die for throwing rocks.
Swartz has pleaded not guilty in the killing.
Prosecutors in the rare second-degree murder trial of a Border Patrol agent in a fatal cross-border shooting of a teenager in Mexico have opened their case saying the 16-year-old didn’t deserve to die for throwing rocks over the international boundary.
Asst. U.S. Attorney Mary Sue Feldmeier acknowledged to jurors in her opening statement Wednesday that Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was throwing rocks over the fence to help drug smugglers by serving as a distraction as they returned to Mexico after leaving backpacks of marijuana in the U.S.
But she says the teen didn’t deserve the death penalty for his crime and the day he was killed Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz “became the judge, the jury and the executioner.”
Feldemeier has also told the newly selected jury that they are not trying an immigration or drug smuggling case, but a second-degree murder case.
Swartz has pleaded not guilty in the 2012 shooting and is free on his own recognizance.
Members of a newly selected jury have been instructed to return to court for opening statements in the trial of a U.S. Border Patrol agent charged with shooting into Mexico in 2012 and killing a 16-year-old.
U.S. District Judge Raner Collins told the panel Tuesday afternoon that opening statements are set for Wednesday morning.
The trial in U.S. District Court in Tucson comes amid President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration and campaign to build a wall along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border.
Lonnie Swartz has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the killing of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. The teenager was shot on a street in Nogales, Mexico, across the border from Nogales, Arizona.
An autopsy showed the unarmed teen was shot 10 times, mostly from behind.