A Tucson jury found a border patrol agent not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a Mexican teen in 2012. Prosecution is now zooming in on the possibility of bringing agent Lonnie Swartz to trial for manslaughter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst said the teen’s family and his colleagues were “very disappointed” with the verdict. A group of protesters gathered outside the courthouse to criticize the decision.
The jury took five days to come up with the decision. Jurors took so much time because they could not make up their mind on whether the border patrol agent should next be retried for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, which are less serious charges.
Federal prosecutors charged the agent in 2012 in the death of Jose Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was 16 years old at the time.
- Eyewitness claim the agent fired more than a dozen shots through the border fence at the teen and his friends who were throwing rocks at him and other agents through the fence.
- Eight of the bullets hit the Mexican teen in the back and two in the head, killing him instantly.
The defense team said they were happy with the verdict, but admitted they were expecting other criminal charges.
On Monday, jurors were asked to use a separate room if they planned to talk to the press. None of them spoke to the media, so it is unclear what evidence they used to reach their conclusion and what their reasoning was.
In the trial, the jury questioned all witnesses. They were curious to learn, for example, the size of the rocks that Elena Rodríguez and his friends threw at the border patrol agents. Jurors also wanted to know whether Swartz’s colleagues, who took cover but did not use deadly force on the teens, sensed their life was in peril.
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