Feds mull retrial after border agent cleared in Mexican teen’s killing

Protesters block traffic at Congress Street and Sixth Avenue, shutting down traffic, after Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz was found not guilty of second-degree murder on April 23, 2018. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two lesser charges of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star.

Federal prosecutors will consider whether to retry Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz on lesser charges after a jury acquitted him Monday of second-degree murder in the 2012 death of a Mexican teen.

“We are very disappointed for the family, for the victim and for the community,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst outside the federal courtroom in Tucson after the verdict, which was followed by protests that blocked downtown streets into the night.

After nearly five days of deliberations, the jury of eight women and four men also told the judge it was hopelessly deadlocked on the two less-serious charges it was considering against Swartz, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.

Kleindienst said prosecutors will assess what was going through the jurors’ minds before deciding whether to retry Swartz on the manslaughter charges.

“It’s too soon to tell,” he said. “We all might be back here again.”

Swartz was charged in the October 2012 killing of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodríguez of Nogales, Sonora. The agent is accused of firing 16 shots through the Nogales border fence in response to a group of rock throwers, including Elena Rodríguez, who was hit eight times in the back and twice in the head.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star or scroll below for complete trial coverage.

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The trial of Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz

Lawyers in the second-degree murder trial of Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz, left, say he was protecting himself from rock throwers when he fired through the border fence. Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star

For prosecutors, Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz was the man who in the span of 34 seconds fired 16 shots through the border fence, killing an unarmed Mexican teenager.

To the defense, he was an agent scared to death, operating in a busy drug-trafficking area, who had to make a split-second decision to protect himself and his fellow law enforcers from a group of rock throwers — including 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez.

The government and defense presented their cases  in U.S. District Court in Tucson over four weeks. On April 23, the jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder and couldn’t reach a verdict on voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

The government decided to retry Swartz on the lesser charges. The new trial is scheduled for late October.

Follow my coverage of the case below. Latest story is first.

Border agent Lonnie Swartz to be tried again in cross-border shooting of teen

Activists to rally at Tucson courthouse during hearing on border agent’s retrial

Jurors on opposite sides: Was agent stopping threat, or lethally over-reacting?

Feds mull retrial after border agent cleared in Mexican teen’s killing

Jurors in border agent’s trial deadlocked, judge says keep deliberating

Judge: Jurors can consider less-serious charges in border slaying case

Closing arguments expected early this week in border agent’s murder trial

Arizona border agent’s first shot killed Mexican teen, pathologist testifies

US border agent testifies he shot Mexican teenager to protect himself, other officers

First defense witness veers from expectations in border agent’s murder trial

Border agent’s Tucson murder trial this week to include testimony from Mexican officials

Testimony in border agent’s trial centers on whether teen was alive after first shots

Rock attacks vs. gunfire at issue in border agent’s murder trial

Border Patrol policies about rock-throwers dominate Day 2 of agent’s murder trial

Unjustified killing or self-defense? Border Patrol agent’s murder trial opens

Border Patrol agent to go on trial Tuesday in 2012 shooting death of teen

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