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Re-trial ordered for border activist

Was it humanitarian aid or illegal harboring of migrants?
Posted at 5:13 AM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 22:02:27-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Prosecutors say they will re-try a border aid worker charged with illegally harboring migrants after his trial ended in a hung jury last month but they also offered Scott Warren a deal to avoid prison time in exchange for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

At a case management conference at the Tucson Federal Courthouse Tuesday, federal prosecutors said they would drop a conspiracy charge against Scott Warren, a volunteer with the group No More Deaths, but continue with a trial on two charges of illegally harboring migrants. The new trial is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Prosecutors also offered Warren the chance to plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge and avoid prison time.

RELATED: Jurors can’t agree on verdict in border activist case

Warren was arrested in January 2018, after Border Patrol agents say they saw him offer food, water, shelter and medical care to two men who crossed the border illegally.

It all happened at "The Barn" -- a hub of activity for the group "No More Deaths," which gives food and water to immigrants crossing Arizona's desert.

Prosecutors did not comment on the re-trial decision. Warren has always contended he only gave legal, humanitarian assistance.

Warren first went on trial for the charges in June, facing up to 20 years if convicted. After nearly three days of deliberation, jurors could not agree on a verdict and Federal Judge Raner Collins declared a mistrial in the case. To some degree the original jury's inability to agree on a verdict in Warren's case could be seen as a measure of just how conflicted our community is over the issue of immigration. For this re-trial Warren's defense attorney has asked for additional time to question the potential jurors in the re-trial.

After Tuesday's court hearing announcing the retrial, Warren read a statement near the courthouse:

“Today the government decided to retry its case against me. We are ready for this second trial and more prepared than ever. However, I as well as most of you, remain unclear what the point of all this effort, time, and money has been. It has been deeply exhausting and troublesome to my friends and family and loved ones. But we have all done our best and we really should take a moment to celebrate that as we prepare for the future.

While I do not know what the government has hoped to accomplish here I do know what the effect of all this has been. A raising of public consciousness. A greater awareness of the humanitarian crisis in the borderland. More volunteers who want to stand in solidarity with migrants. Local residents stiffened in their resistance to border walls and the militarization of our communities. And a flood of water into the desert at a time when it is most needed.

Thank you for all of your support and I love you all very much.”