The Latest: Verdict reached in Fast and Furious trial

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2 men found guilty in killing of Border Patrol agent.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The latest developments in the murder trial of two men charged in the death of a U.S. Two men on trial in the killing of a Border Patrol agent during a 2010 shootout in the Arizona desert were found guilty Thursday in federal court in Tucson. Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, also known as Lionel Portillo-Meza, and Ivan Soto-Barraza were accused of belonging to a “rip crew” that was planning to rob drug smugglers when they encountered Brian Terry and other agents.

Terry’s death exposed the government’s failed “Operation Fast and Furious,” which allowed weapons to be sold illegally to Mexican cartels in hopes of tracking them back to cartel leaders. After days of testimony and evidence, both prosecutors and defendants made their closing arguments and turned the case over to jurors who will decide if Ivan Soto Barraza and Jesus Leonel Sanchez Mesa are guilty. Prosecutor Todd Wallace Robinson on Wednesday told jurors that DNA and fingerprint evidence, along with confessions from both defendants, prove they are guilty on all nine counts, including first-degree murder. The two men are accused of being part of a rip crew that on was moving around in the area known as Mesquite Seep looking for cartel drug smugglers in an attempt to steal their drugs. He criticized the agents’ tactics, questioning why agents were so far from the rip crew when their goal was to arrest them and why they provided conflicting testimony about the timeline of events.

However, evidence and testimony presented in the case show that five weapons, food and other items had been left behind so the suspects could get them prior to the shooting, Terry-Balogh said. His fellow agents delivered emotional testimony during the trial, describing how the “rip crew” began firing indiscriminately in their direction after their paths crossed on December 14, 2010. Two guns found at the scene were part of the Fast and Furious operation that allowed criminals to buy weapons that federal authorities intended to track.

The operation was supposed to allow the agents to track the weapons to top cartel bosses; however, the ATF ended up losing track of the firearms. “I want it to be an honest and good verdict,” she said. “I want them guilty but I want the verdict to be non-biased… I want them (jurors) to take their time and make and make sure they get it right.” During closing arguments, federal prosecutor Todd Robinson said it didn’t matter if either one of the defendants actually fired the shot that killed Terry. The defendants’ attempt to commit the felony act of armed robbery – and Terry’s death as a result of that attempt – meant they are both also guilty of felony murder, he said. “Agent Terry is dead because these two defendants and their three co-conspirators decided they were going to rob some marijuana smugglers,” Robinson said.

The Terry family, which has been present throughout the trial in Tucson, says it wants ATF officials who orchestrated the sting to be prosecuted in the agent’s death.

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