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No New Trial For Border Agent Acquitted Of Killing Mexican Teen, U.S. Prosecutors Say

A portrait of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, a Mexican youth who was killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Nogales, Mexico, in October 2012.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday they would not seek to retry a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was twice acquitted of fatally shooting a Mexican teenager through a border fence in Nogales, Ariz.

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, was killed by Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz on October 2012. The agent said he was acting in self-defense when threatened by rock throwers on the Mexican side of the border.

As NPR's John Burnett reported, a Mexican medical examiner said that Elena Rodriguez was shot 10 times — eight times in the back.

During his trials, Swartz's defense attorney acknowledged that the border agent had discharged his service weapon at least 16 times.

Swartz was first tried in April 2018, nearly six years after the shooting. He was acquitted of second-degree murder, while the jury deadlocked on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

In a second trial in October, a jury acquitted Swartz of involuntary manslaughter, and deadlocked on the charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Swartz was only the third Border Patrol agent to be tried for a killing committed on duty. The Guardian reported that 97 people have died in encounters with the Border Patrol since 2003.

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