Skip to comments.Jury selected in BP agent murder case
Posted on 02/27/2008 11:10:59 AM PST by HiJinx
TUCSON A jury was selected Tuesday to hear Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Corbetts murder trial in U.S. District Court.
Opening arguments and testimony are expected to start today.
Corbett is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide for shooting a Mexican named Francisco Dominguez-Rivera who illegally entered the United States near Naco last year in January.
Activists representing anti-illegal immigration groups, as well as humanitarian and civil rights groups, expressed their views in displays outside the courthouse throughout the day Tuesday.
Meanwhile, inside a courtroom, Judge David Bury, prosecutors and defense attorneys spent most of the day selecting 12 jurors and one alternate. There were supposed to be two alternates on the panel, but something came up and one of them had to leave.
The jury is made up of five women and seven men. The alternate is a man. Two of the jurors were born in the Philippines and one was born in Venezuela. The rest were born in the United States.
A total of 141 prospective jurors entered the courtroom, and a lengthy process was conducted to select members of the jury. They were asked several questions regarding potential conflicts, as well as their feelings on border issues or if they had seen any pretrial publicity of the case.
The judge also inquired if any of them would face a personal hardship if they were to serve on the jury. One prospective juror was excused because he was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and he needs to undergo testing soon. Another was excused because he needs to see a dentist for a toothache.
Prior to the start of jury selection, Grant Woods, the lead special prosecutor, submitted a motion asking the court to pick a jury of eight members instead of 12.
The Arizona Constitution says juries must consist of 12 members in criminal cases in which a sentence of imprisonment of 30 years or more is authorized. The state statute says juries for other cases must consist of eight individuals.
The charges against Corbett were originally filed by the Cochise County Attorneys Office, but the case was removed to federal court. Woods noted the defendant is facing a maximum sentence of 22 years. As a result, he argued the jury in this case should only contain eight people.
But Jim Calle, one of the defense attorneys, said the size of the jury should be subject to federal procedure rules and therefore there should be 12 jurors. Judge Bury agreed with Calle and he denied the motion.
Once the jury was chosen, Bury instructed members of the panel not to discuss the case with anybody. He told them not to read, watch or listen to any news coverage of the trial. The judge warned them to avoid any people who are demonstrating outside the court.
Supporters cheered as Corbett entered the courthouse Tuesday morning.
Several people who oppose illegal immigration demonstrated. Some carried American flags and signs with statements such as Free Corbett and Mexico Out of U.S. One man held a sign saying Free the Border Patrol. American Freedom Riders Support Agent Nick Corbett.
Roy Warden, a political activist who lives in Tucson, used a megaphone to express his opinions. He said he supports the Border Patrol in principal. He said Americans need to stand up for agents because they are protecting the country.
Border Patrol agents have a hard job. They are trying to do a good job, but they are being attacked on the job and they are being attacked politically, he said. But, he added, he will not defend Corbett if the evidence shows he murdered Dominguez-Rivera and the jury convicts him.
The Border Action Network set up a table in memory of the victim, featuring photos, silk flowers, candles and a poster stating, May his death serve to prevent the needless deaths of others.
Jennifer Allen, the groups executive director, released a written statement saying: We dont believe that agent Corbett wanted to kill Francisco Dominguez-Rivera. We do believe, however, that agent Corbetts response to the situation was absolutely inappropriate, is inexcusable and reflects an extreme case of excessive use of force.
At around lunch time, some No More Deaths volunteers were gathered near the courthouse showing support for the family and to demand justice.
Max Garcia, of Tucson, held a blue flag bearing the image of a globe without borders. He said he feels borders between countries are arbitrary and they are used to manipulate and hurt people.
Attorneys prosecuting and defending the case will present their opening statements this morning. Then, the state is expected to call its first witness, Renato Dominguez, who is the father of the victim.
Maybe...I mean, Jennifer's entitled to her opinion. But it's getting to the point where not even deadly force will stem the tide. In fact, we're probably already there.
Nick Corbett case update...jury selection has been completed.
Here we go again. This will be a bilingual trial, with translators needed for the Mexican witnesses. Look at the jury composition and the fact that the judge has already sided with the defense, and you have an idea how this will go....
Judge Bury is the one who ruled that our Proposition 200 was legal - the Prop that denied publis assistance to illegals, and required ID to vote.
From what I think I know about this case, what actually happened was a negligent homicide - an accidental discharge of Corbett’s pistol while he was trying to corral the group of illegals.
The judge will do his best to get both sides of the story out to the jury and let them decided. He worked hard to keep hot-heads from both sides of the issue off the jury. There’s no way I would have been accepted had I been there.
I wouldn’t be a Border Patrol Agent for $500,000 a year! They don’t have a chance.
Neither do the true patriotic citizens of this country, I’m afraid.
If we continue to allow our elected and appointed officials to ignore and ridicule our laws on the books, we don’t have a chance in h*ll.
When I think about the job BP agents face, I am reminded of some of the scenes of the mobile infantry versus the ‘bugs’ in ‘Starship Troopers’.
That’s a very apt comparison. Our agents are outnumbered and hamstrung by PC rules of engagement...
I wouldn’t buy that one if on a jury. You pull out a weapon and point it at people, you will have to live with any “untoward” consequences.
YMMV, of course.
If it was an accidental discharge, then forensics evidence should help the defense’s case.
Actually, I was (way) mixed up in my previous post, so never mind it:) I see now what the prosecution was trying to do and why, but the judge blocked it.
Absolutely. The county attorney filed 4 separate charges with the Grand Jury in the incident, hoping to get at least one to stick. The grand jury returned indictments on three of the four, all but the first degree murder charge.
One of the very early reports indicated that Nick Corbett was highly agitated when the first of his buddies showed up on the scene. Dominguez was already down, if not dead. To me, that indicates that the killing was not planned, and perhaps not at all intentional. His story to investigators at first did not match forensic evidence on the scene, indicative of a possible attempt to make the shooting look less serious (accidental?) than it was.
As you said, and I said, this is just my opinion after following the media reports so far. Without knowing how the defense plans to proceed, I’m not sure we’ll ever know what really happened out there.
Only trouble is, Corbett has gone with a self-defense posture/excuse from the beginning - so, accidental discharge makes him look bad. He can't afford to plead that way now.
Okay, lunch is over...see you later!
My sister is a cop there in town, I’ll call her for updates. I’ll try to get a read on how it is playing out from that side of things....
Hey La Dita... thank you for the heads up.
This stuff just makes me ill.... I am at a loss for words.
I know... words are not adequate. It’s tragic, and we live in bizarre times.
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