Jury acquits Border Patrol agent of manslaughter in cross-border shooting

By Daniel Uria

Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A Arizona jury found a Border Patrol agent not guilty Wednesday of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a Mexican teen in a 2012 cross-border shooting.

Jurors in the court of U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins in Tucson, Ariz., acquitted Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz of the involuntary manslaughter charge for shooting and killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, but didn't come to a verdict on a count of involuntary manslaughter.


A status hearing on the voluntary manslaughter charge was scheduled to be held Dec. 11 to determine whether or not a hung jury will be declared.

Swartz's defense attorneys said he can't be retried on the higher charge of voluntary manslaughter in the future, because he was acquitted on the involuntary manslaughter charge.

RELATED Record number of families apprehended at border in September

He was previously acquitted of second-degree murder charges in April, but the jury was unable to reach a decision on the manslaughter charges, prompting the government to call for a retrial that began Oct. 23.

Prior to opening statements in the retrial, Swartz's attorneys requested the trial be moved outside of Tucson, stating he couldn't get a fair trial in the city and that protestors tried to influence potential jurors. Collins denied the request saying none of the jurors saw photos of Rodriguez that protestors allegedly used to sway the jurors.


Swartz fired his pistol through the Nogales border fence 16 times in 34 seconds on Oct. 10, 2012, striking Rodriguez twice in the head and eight times in the back.

RELATED Texas man gets 6 years for smuggling immigrants across border

The defense argued Swartz acted in self defense against a group of people along the border who were throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents.

In August, a federal court ruled Rodriguez's mother, Araceli Rodriguez, could seek damages against Swartz in a civil suit.

She argued her son was innocently walking down a street in Mexico and wasn't throwing rocks or engaging in any other illegal activity.

Latest Headlines