BP agent to face new trial in shooting death of Mexican teen

BP agent to face new trial in shooting death of Mexican teen
Lonnie Ray Swartz. (Source: Maggie Keane)
Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez (Source: Elena Rodriguez Family)
Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez (Source: Elena Rodriguez Family)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Border Patrol agent will face a new trial for the 2012 cross-border shooting death of a Mexican teen.

Lonnie Swartz's voluntary manslaughter trial will begin with jury selection on Monday, Oct. 23.

Both sides are expected to file several motions in the case and a hearing for those motions has been set for Monday, July 30.

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On April 23, Swartz was found not guilty of second-degree murder but the jury was not able to reach a decision on the lesser charges of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

The judge then dismissed the jury and declared a mistrial.

After the decision, protesters took to the street in Tucson and blocked several intersection for hours.

Swartz has been accused of opening fire from the Arizona side of the border into Nogales, Mexico and killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez in 2012.

An autopsy showed the unarmed Rodriguez was hit 10 times, mostly from behind.

Swartz's case is a rare Justice Department prosecution of a fatal cross-border shooting.

Border Patrol has said Rodriguez was among a group of rock throwers endangering agents' lives. His family claims the boy was walking home from a basketball game with friends and was not armed or hurling rocks.

Swartz pleaded not guilty to the charge in 2015, when he was placed on administrative leave without pay.

Documents filed by prosecutors in 2016 reveal Border Patrol Supervisor Leo Cruz-Mendez said he was surprised to see Swartz at the fence on the night of the shooting. Swartz had been assigned to work at a nearby port of entry.

Cruz-Mendez told the grand jury he told Swartz everything was OK after the shooting, but the agent began to vomit.

According to the documents, Swartz said a police dog was hit by one of the rocks thrown from across the border.

"I shot and there's someone dead in Mexico," he continued, and produced and empty ammunition magazine from his pocket, according to court records.

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