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Trial beginning for US agent in cross-border killing of teen

Posted at 11:17 AM, Mar 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-20 21:12:27-04

TUCSON, Ariz - For Lonnie Swartz and his defense team the first day of his murder trial has arrived after two and a half years of hearings, motions and counter-motions over what a jury will be able to consider.

Jurors will consider a rare second-degree murder trial of a U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of shooting across the international boundary into Mexico and killing a teenager five years ago.

Jury selection included questions about whether potential jurors had been victims of crime, knew anyone accused of a crime and did they feel they were treated fairly. 

21 pages of printed questions included questions about whether anyone had been active with border activist groups on both sides of border issues like No More Deaths or the Minutemen.

Agent Lonnie Swartz is accused of killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. The teen was on the street in Nogales, in Mexico's Sonora state, just across the border from Nogales, Arizona.

An autopsy showed the unarmed youth was hit 10 times, mostly from behind.

Swartz's lawyers have said Elena Rodriguez threw rocks just before he was shot in an attempt to create a distraction for drug smugglers and that the officer was justified in using lethal force.

But Judge Raner Collins reminded prospective jurors the charges against Lonnie Swartz do not hinge on whether Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was involved with drug smuggling, they depend on whether rocks put Swartz in enough danger to justify killing.



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