KGUN 9NewsLocal News


US agent goes on trial in Mexican teen cross-border killing

Was deadly force justified?
Posted at 1:52 PM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-20 14:20:15-04

It has been nearly six years since a Border Patrol Agent shot through the border fence and killed a teen in Mexico.  Now the Agent's trial for second-degree murder will begin Tuesday.

No one disputes the fact that Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz fired through the border fence and killed 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez.  His second-degree murder trial hinges on whether he was justified.
The teen died in October 2012.  
His family said he was a good boy, shot for no reason.
Soon after his death his grandmother told us: 
"Our family is broken.  Nothing will ever be the same.  There's just an overwhelming sense of loneliness."
A Federal Grand Jury indicted Swartz for second degree murder almost three years later.  Since then prosecutors and defense attorney's have argued over what evidence a jury should hear.
The night Swartz shot and killed Rodriguez, Nogales Police and Border Patrol were trying to stop smugglers from getting over the fence and back to Mexico after dropping a drug load.

People in Mexico were throwing rocks over the fence apparently to distract the officers and agents.

Border Patrol covers glass on its vehicles to protect against rocks and trains agents sometimes they can regard rock throwing as deadly force.  

Surveillance video shows Agent Lonnie Swartz arriving, pointing his gun through the border fence, firing and reloading for a total of ten shots.
While Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez family proclaimed he was not involved in drug smuggling, Swartz's defense attorneys convinced Judge Raner Collins to allow proof that he was--including rust stains on his clothes consistent with climbing the rusty poles of the border fence.
Prosecutors say it does not matter whether Rodriguez was smuggling, only whether his actions were enough of a threat to justify Agent Lonnie Swartz responding with deadly force.


Federal judge says border agent's military record off table

Cross-border killing: Should BP Agent's Army AWOL be evidence?

Border agent asks judgefor night border visit by jury

Judges refusesto oust prosecutors from border shooting case

BP Agent in cross-bordermurder case was forced out of Army

Cross BorderKilling: Prosecutors won't dispute teen was throwing rocks

Surveillance disputed in cross-border shooting case

Border Patrol agent's trial in Mexican killing delayed

Vigil for Mexican teen killed in border shooting: BP agent charged with his death

BP Agent's murder trial to stay in Federal Court

Murder case against Border Patrol agent to move forward

Cross-border killing video challenged