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Defense says cross-border shooting justified

Posted: 11:23 AM, Mar 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-22 01:23:01Z
Jury ready to hear trial in cross-border killing

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 said Border Patrol agents are trained to consider rocks a potentially deadly projectile and held a rock in his hand while making his point to jurors.

He says witnesses will testify 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.

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 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.

Prosecutor Mary Sue Feldmeier emphasized that Swartz was the only law enforcement officer involved in the incident to fire his weapon. Chapman said Swartz was so distraught afterward that he walked across the street from the fence and vomited.

An autopsy showed the unarmed teen was shot 10 times, mostly from behind.

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