Skip to comments.Murder trial for Border Patrol agent shifted to federal court
Posted on 08/30/2007 10:51:47 AM PDT by radar101
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. - A U.S. Border Patrol agent charged in state court with second-degree murder for the shooting death of an illegal immigrant has succeeded in having his case shifted to federal court, records show.
Attorneys for agent Nicholas Corbett filed notice in U.S. District Court in Tucson asking that the federal courts take jurisdiction over the case, and on Tuesday filed a notice in Cochise County Superior Court removing the case to federal court.
Documents filed in federal court by Corbett's lawyers claim his actions were necessary and proper to perform his duties as a federal law enforcement agent. As such, he is immune from state prosecution under the U.S. Constitution, they assert.
Corbett pleaded not guilty earlier this month to second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide charges filed in connection with the death of 22-year-old Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera, of Puebla, Mexico. The incident occurred Jan. 12 as Corbett was patrolling the border east of Naco.
Corbett, 41, told supervisory agents he had shot Dominguez Rivera after the man threatened him with a rock. Witnesses, however, said Corbett shot him without provocation.
After a lengthy investigation that included FBI and forensic reports that reportedly contradict Corbett's official account of the events, the Coshise County Attorney's Office charged him with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide.
At a preliminary hearing early this month, a county judge dismissed the first-degree murder charges but ruled there was enough evidence to proceed to trial on the remaining three charges.
Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer was not immediately available for comment Thursday morning, and calls to Corbett's attorney by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
Witnesses--Illegal Aliens, and relatives of the perpetrator. The Truth
sucks to be this guy, he is getting railroaded obviously. what happened? who knows, but biased witnesses? this stinks to high heaven.
Well, maybe he will get more consideration from Johnny Sutton.
Something is so very wrong, when BP agents cannot protect the border they are hired to protect.
methinks they have been sent on a fool’s errand, but punished if they actually attempt to do their jobs.
My first question is: WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO BECOME A BORDER PATROL AGENT??
BISBEE A judge dismissed first-degree murder charges against a Border Patrol agent in the shooting death of a Mexican man near the border but ordered him to stand trial on counts of second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide.
Bisbee Justice of the Peace David Morales delivered his decision to a packed courtroom at about 5:30 p.m. Monday after hearing more than seven hours of testimony in a preliminary hearing for agent Nicholas Corbett, 39.
Morales determined that the Cochise County Attorney's Office didn't demonstrate probable cause to warrant the first-degree charge, but it did meet that standard for the other three.
The shooting of Francisco Javier Domínguez Rivera, 22, of Puebla, Mexico, occurred on Jan. 12 near the Mexican border between Bisbee and Douglas.
Corbett was trying to apprehend the slain man and his two brothers, René Domínguez Rivera, 21, and Jorge Domínguez Rivera, 24; and the man's sister-in-law, Sandra Vidal Guzmán, 20.
"We are not surprised by this," said Sean Chapman, a Tucson attorney representing Corbett. "We're happy he dismissed the first-degree-murder charge, and we'd expected him to do that."
Gerald Till, Cochise deputy county attorney, would not comment other than to say: "I just put the case on and let the judge decide."
The judge's decision was fair, said Angelita Nuñez of Douglas, who was one of the immigrant-rights supporters who attended the hearing.
A trial will provide an opportunity for Domínguez Rivera's family to get justice, said Jennifer Allen, director of the Border Action Network, a Tucson-based immigrant-rights organization.
Till said Superior Court probably will set an arraignment date within a month. The trial will likely be held in Cochise County Superior Court, although the defense could request that it be held in federal court in Tucson. A jury will have the option of convicting Corbett on second-degree murder or a lesser charge of either manslaughter or negligent homicide.
The prosecution brought 10 witnesses to the stand Monday, including René Domínguez Rivera, Jorge Domínguez Rivera and Vidal Guzmán.
Defense attorneys peppered them with questions, aiming to show inconsistencies in their accounts.
On several occasions, the lawyers played audiotapes to point out differences in what the witnesses had told police after the shooting and what they testified to on Monday.
But all three stuck to their original story that Corbett shot Francisco Javier Domínguez Rivera from behind and that he had not tried to throw a rock at Corbett or make any threatening gestures.
During their cross-examinations, defense attorneys questioned the decision by the Cochise County Sheriff's Department not to separate the witnesses immediately after the shooting. They also accused the Mexican government of trying to influence the testimonies of the slain man's brothers and sister-in-law by providing them with food, clothes and lodging, and arranging for visas for them to remain in the United States while the case runs it course.
René Domínguez Rivera, Jorge Domínguez Rivera and Vidal Guzmán acknowledged the support from the Mexican Consulate but said they made their own decision to stay and didn't feel pressured by the Mexican Consulate. When asked by Chapman if the three discussed what they would tell authorities while sitting together in a Border Patrol vehicle the night of the shooting, Jorge Domínguez Rivera said: "We weren't thinking about that. We were thinking about what we were going to tell my father." Other witnesses included Cochise County sheriff's detectives, Border Patrol supervisors, a medical examiner and a criminalist. The forensic evidence continued to cast doubt on Corbett's assertion to other agents that he shot the victim from straight away.
The shot was fired from less than 1 foot away, testified John Maciulla, a criminalist with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The slain man could not have been shot from straight ahead, testified Dr. Guery Flores, Cochise County medical examiner.
Corbett didn't take the stand Monday.
Defense attorney Daniel Santander saved the most direct questions for the final witness of the day: Cochise County sheriff's Detective Wendy Adney. He questioned her about the handling of the investigation, asked her why her report was incomplete, and at one point asked: "Who was in charge of this investigation? The Cochise County Sheriff's or the Mexican Consulate?"
She defended her decision to allow the consulate to speak with the witnesses and tried to defend most of her actions, but she didn't have explanations for many of the conclusions she reached in the report.
The criticisms were echoed by Brandon Judd, vice president of Local 2544, the Arizona Chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, the agents' union. He called it a "one-sided" investigation and accused Cochise County of allowing the Mexican Consulate to influence its actions.
Corbett was assigned to administrative work after the charges were filed.
His attorney emphasized that Monday's decision doesn't mean that Corbett is guilty. "It simply means that the prosecutor met a very low burden of proof, and there is sufficient evidence to carry this over to trial."
Compean and Ramos all over again?
How do we expect the BP to keep us safe if they can’t even defend themselves.
What a screwed up system! Thank God we beat back “shamnesty” for now.
We will have to keep fighting for our borders for as long as traitor-Dems exist.
Well, apparently all you have to do is avoid illegal aliens and drug smugglers in order to do your job. Doesn’t sound too difficult. If I were a border patrol agent I would check in for work, then go home and take an all day siesta every day. It’s the only way to stay out of jail.
The witnesses no doubt being fellow illegals. Who of course would not dream of being anything but completely honest and objective.
The corruption is disgusting.
Sorry to say, but I think that is the intended purpose of these prosecutions of border agents. If you can't get your policy through the legislative branch, let the courts do your dirty work.
That's precisely the question the Bush admin. wants both current and potential future BP agents to ask themselves over and over.
“WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO BECOME A BORDER PATROL AGENT??”
What do you think is the aim of this Administration????
My son was considering applying for the Border Patrol. I showed him some articles involving BP agents and told him to forget it. It didn’t take much convincing.
“Sorry to say, but I think that is the intended purpose of these prosecutions of border agents. If you can’t get your policy through the legislative branch, let the courts do your dirty work”
With only illegal trespassers for witnesses :-)
Why does this painting come to mind?