Pros­e­cu­tor ad­mits border agents’ pun­ish­ment is ‘high’

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Jerry Seper

The pros­e­cu­tor who won lengthy pris­on­sen­tences­fort­woU.S.Border Pa­trol agents for shoot­ing a sus­pected drug smug­gler flee­ing back in­toMex­i­coac­knowl­edged­last­week the“pun­ish­ment­washigh”but­said the sen­tences were man­dated by Congress.

“I agree the pun­ish­ment was high, but the sen­tenc­ing guide­lines were set by Congress and the judge acted in ac­cor­dance with the law,” U.S. At­tor­ney Johnny Sut­ton told The Wash­ing­ton Times in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

Mr. Sut­ton said 11- and 12-year sen­tences, re­spec­tively, for Agents Ig­na­cio Ramos and Jose Alonso Com­pean fell within the fed­eral sen­tenc­ing guide­lines.

“Rea­son­ablepeo­ple­can­cer­tainly ar­gue that the time the agents re­ceived was too much, but that is an is­sue that needs to be taken up with those in Congress who set the sen­tenc­ing guide­lines,” he said. “My job is to up­hold the law. It’s some­one else’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­ter­mine if it needs to be changed.”

Ramos, 37, and Com­pean, 28, were con­victed of caus­ing se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury, as­sault with a deadly weapon,dis­char­ge­o­fafirearmin­re­la­tion to a crime of vi­o­lence and a civil rights vi­o­la­tion. A jury con­victed the agents in March af­ter a two-week trial of shoot­ing Os­baldo Al­drete-Dav­ila in the but­tocks as he ran from a mar­i­juana-laden van back into Mex­ico.

Sen­tenc­ing­guide­li­ne­ses­tab­lished by Congress say a per­son con­victed of com­mit­ting a crime of vi­o­lence and us­ing a firearm dur­ing that crime faces a 10-year manda­tory min­i­mum, in ad­di­tion to what other charges are in­volved.

The con­vic­tions and sen­tences have drawn wide­spread crit­i­cism from sev­eral sources, in­clud­ing some mem­bers of Congress.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, called it “the worst be­trayal of Amer­i­can de­fend­ers I have ever seen.” Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion call­ing for a con­gres­sion­al­par­don.Rep.JoeWil­son, South Carolina Repub­li­can, de­scribed the case as a “grotesque mis­di­rec­tiono­four­ju­di­cial­sys­tem.”

Pe­ti­tions with more than 260,000 sig­na­tures have been pre­sented to Pres­i­den­tBush­call­ing­fora­pardon. Seventy mem­bers of Congress are co-spon­sors of Mr. Hunter’s bill.

Na­tional Border Pa­trol Coun­cil Pres­i­dent T.J. Bon­ner, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sents all 10,000 of the agency’s non-su­per­vi­sory per­son­nel,saidMr.Sut­ton­was­notre­quired to bring the man­dated firearms charge, say­ing “it is quite doubt­ful Congress ever in­tended that this pro­vi­sion be used against law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers who carry firearm­sinthep­er­for­mance­oftheir nor­mal du­ties.”

Rep. Wal­ter B. Jones, North Carolina Repub­li­can, said in a let­ter to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Al­berto R. Gon­za­les — co-signed by Mr. RohrabacherandRepub­li­canReps. ErnestIs­tookofOk­la­homa,GaryG. Miller and Ed Royce of Cal­i­for­nia, and Tom Tan­credo of Colorado — the10-year­manda­to­ry­gun­charges should have been dropped.

“This statute has his­tor­i­cally been used in vi­o­lent crime and drug traf­fick­ing cases,” Mr. Jones said in the let­ter. “It has also been ap­plied to law en­force­ment when nec­es­sary, how­ever, based on past ap­pli­ca­tions [. . . ] it ap­pears that its ap­pli­ca­tion in the present case is un­war­ranted.”

Mr. Bon­ner also noted that both agents tes­ti­fied that Mr. Al­dreteDav­ila turned and pointed a weapon at them while he was run­ning away. He said a doc­tor who re­moved the bul­let said in court that Mr. Al­drete-Dav­ila’s body was “bladed” away from the bul­let that struck him, con­sis­tent with the mo­tion of a per­son run­ning away while point­ing back­ward.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.