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