- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) - Jurors in the case of a U.S. Border Patrol agent on trial for second-degree murder in the cross-border shooting of a rock-throwing teenager were deadlocked for three days before a mistrial was declared, new court filings in the case show.

The papers filed this week in U.S. District Court in Tucson show the jury wrote to Judge Raner Collins on April 18, the third day of deliberation: “Sir, we are deadlocked. How long do we continue.”

Raner, who earlier told jurors they could consider the charges of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter if they couldn’t reach a decision on second-degree murder, told them to keep trying.

Jurors met again on April 20 and Monday before they acquitted agent Lonnie Swartz of murder later that day and deadlocked on the lesser counts of manslaughter.

Prosecutors can still seek another trial for Swartz on manslaughter charges in the 2012 death of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, but a final decision has not been announced.



A hearing on the status of the case will be held May 11.

Luis Parra, attorney for the teen’s mother, Araceli Rodriguez, said the family was disappointed by the trial’s outcome.

“We remain optimistic that the case will be retried and that the defendant will be found guilty on one of the lesser manslaughter charges,” the Nogales, Arizona attorney said.

Jurors had deliberated about 18 hours over five days in what human rights attorneys say was the first prosecution of a Border Patrol agent in a fatal shooting across the border.

Swartz fired 16 shots late on Oct. 10, 2012, through a 20-foot (6-meter) fence that sits on an embankment above Mexico’s Calle Internacional, a Nogales street lined with homes and small businesses.

Prosecutors acknowledged during the monthlong trial that Elena Rodriguez was lobbing rocks across the border during a drug smuggling attempt. But they say he did not deserve to die.

Defense attorneys countered that Swartz was justified in using lethal force against rock-throwers and shot from the U.S. side of the border in self-defense.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Strange has said her office respects the jury’s decision.

“I am proud of our office’s work in presenting this difficult case to the jury,” Strange said after the decision was announced Monday.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide