Agent to be tried in il­le­gal alien’s killing; Mex­i­can of­fi­cials call for probe

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

An Ari­zona judge has or­dered a U.S. Border Pa­trol agent to stand trial on sec­ond-de­gree mur­der charges in the killing of an il­le­gal alien, a rul­ing that has prompted the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment to call for its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the in­ci­dent.

Mex­ico’s For­eign Min­istr y, which had wanted first-de­gree mur­der charges brought against Agent Ni­cholas Cor­bett in the Jan. 12 shoot­ing of Fran­cisco Dominguez Rivera, has in- structed its em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton to in­ves­ti­gate the case.

Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon con­demned the shoot­ing, the Mex­i­can For­eign Min­istry called it an ex­am­ple of “dis­pro­por­tion­ate vi­o­lence” aimed at Mex­i­can na­tion­als along the South­west border and the Mex­i­can Em­bassy sent a diplo­matic note to the State De­part­ment de­mand­ing an “ex­haus­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Mr. Cor­bett, 39, ini­tially was charged with first-de­gree and sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, man­slaugh­ter and neg­li­gent homi­cide in the death of Mr. Dominguez-Rivera, 22, of Pue­bla, Mex­ico — killed dur­ing what the Border Pa­trol said was a scuf­fle be­tween the agent and as many as six il­le­gal aliens at­tempt­ing to cross into the United States.

The shoot­ing oc­curred on the border about 100 miles south­east of Tuc­son, Ariz., along a pop­u­lar alien- and drug-smug­gling cor­ri­dor. Mr. Cor­bett told col­leagues he feared for his life and used deadly force to keep the man from throw­ing a large rock at him.

Cochise County, Ariz., At­tor­ney Ed Rhein­heimer brought charges in April, based on what he said was an “ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion” by the Cochise County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment.

But the Ari­zona chap­ter of the Na­tional Border Pa­trol Coun­cil, which rep­re­sents all 11,000 of the agenc y’s nonsu­per vi­sor y agents, said the Mex­i­can Con­sulate in Douglas, Ariz., tainted the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by in­ter­view­ing some of the six wit­nesses to the shoot­ing be­fore U.S. in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Agent Bran­don Judd, vice pres­i­dent of Lo­cal 2544, called the charges part of a na­tion­wide pat­tern of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated prose­cu­tions against Border Pa­trol agents. He said the match­ing tes­ti­mony of three of the wit­nesses had more to do with their blood ties and in­flu­ence from the Mex­i­can Con­sulate than what hap­pened.

The gov­ern­ment’s wit­nesses in­clude Mr. Dominguez-Rivera’s two brothers and a sis­ter-in-law, who told in­ves­ti­ga­tors Mr. Cor­bett shot the Mex­i­can na­tional at close range. They are in Tuc­son in the cus­tody of the Mex­i­can Con­sulate. Three oth­ers were sent back to Mex­ico.

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