TUCSON, Ariz. - Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz was a man with a darkened heart when he pointed his gun through the border fence, and shot and killed Jose Elena Rodriguez on the Mexican side.
That was the picture Federal prosecutor Wallace Kleindiest painted for jurors as the second degree murder trial of Lonnie Swartz approached jury deliberations.
Swartz testified he was protecting himself and other officers from rocks thrown over the border fence by people on the Mexican side trying to interfere with efforts to arrests smugglers who were trying to climb over the fence and into Mexico.
In closing statements to the jury Kleindienst said in his two years as a Border Patrol Agent, Swartz had been on rocked six or seven times, and each time had responded by using less lethal weapons. Border Patrol may use items like guns that shoot an irritating pepper.
But the night of October 10, 2012, Swartz had been on duty at the DeConcini Port of Entry. He had only his gun, and used it to fire 16 rounds through the fence. Ten shots hit the 16-year-old Mexican teen.
Prosecutors say the threat against Swartz and other officers was not severe enough to justify deadly force and that they could have easily removed any threat by taking cover.
They say other agents took cover but Swartz was fed up with rockings, wanted to send a message, and did it by calmly walking to the border fence, taking careful aim, and firing sixteen shots into Mexico.
Defense attorney Sean Chapman told the jury rocks are enough of a danger to justify deadly force and that there is no evidence to conclude Swartz fired out of anger over rock attacks. He said jurors should not base their verdict on surveillance video of that night because it is low quality and attempts to enhance it may have altered what it shows.