Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Will Justice Finally Be Served?

The appeal of the conviction of former border patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos is now in its' second day. If today goes as well as yesterday, these men should soon be free.

This is a local (El Paso) story that has gotten some play nationwide, but for those of you who are unaware of the story ... a quick re-cap is in order.

On February 17th, 2005, border patrol agents Compean and Ramos intercepted a vehicle with 750 pounds of marijuana near Fabens, TX (just outside of El Paso). The driver, Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, a citizen of Mexico, ran from the vehicle and started running across the Rio Grande (the border). According to the border patrol agents, Aldrete-Davila turned, holding something shiney in his hand, and they opened fire, striking the drug smuggler in the buttocks. Aldrete-Davila continued running across the border and escaped capture. The agents, violating policy, picked up the shell casings and did not report the shooting (probably to avoid paperwork and the temporary desk duty till the shooting investigation is closed). Somehow, Johnny Sutton, the US district attorney for the El Paso area found out about the incident and started an investigation. He offered the drug smuggler immunity for his testimony against the officers and convicted the two agents, sending them to jail for 11 and 12 years. Failure to report the discharge of a weapon is subject to administrative punishment under the Border Patrol's usual procedures and these sentences were extreme, especially since it came down to whether the jury believed the agents or a drug smuggler. Problem is that the jury was not allowed to know about the drug smuggling that went on that day or a couple of months later when Aldrete-Davila was again caught smuggling drugs.

The two border patrol agents have been serving their sentences in solitary confinement after Ignacio Ramos was severely beaten by five illegal aliens in prison. Twenty-three hours a day in a small cell, with one hour a day that they can walk in the yard or watch TV.

Congressman Sylvester Reyes (D-TX), the former head of the El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol, instead of standing up for the agents, decided to side with the drug smuggler and it required Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to stand up for the agent, sending a letter to the President, signed by 50 lawmakers, asking for a pardon for the two agents. Rep Rohrabacher makes the case that since these two are in solitary, they are receiving worse treatment than we give to the terrorists at Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba). President Bush, to his shame, has not acted upon this letter.

Back to the present. Federal prosecuters have admitted that Aldrete-Davila lied during the trial. "He told some lies on the stand," Mark Stelmach, the assistant U.S. attorney representing prosecutor U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton said under questioning by a three-judge 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans. In addition, the questioning by the judges seemed to point to a victory for the agents. Judge Patrick Errol Higgenbotham questioned Stelmach closely about why the prosecution had sought to seal from the jury information about a second smuggling attempt by Aldrete-Davila after Sutton's office gave him immunity and a border pass.

The judge also said it defied common sense to believe that Aldrete-Davila was a lowly mule, as he represented at trial and not an actual player in the world of the drug cartels. Which of course makes it more likely that he had a gun.

Hopefully today is as good as yesterday and these two men can be released quickly ... but who will give them their lives back again? One step at a time I guess.

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9 comments:

Debbie said...

I pray these men are let free and suffer no longer. This has been outrageous. I have gotten emails from people telling me of other questionable prosecutions by these same people. They should be fired and tried.

Debbie
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

I am with you ... and debbie ALL THE WAY!!

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

Oh.. I also meant to say...
my husband gets sooo frustrated when he needs to take the stand on the criminals they have to keep putting away ... (you know, b/c repeat offeners keep getting out of prison for one reason after another)

he told me that if the jury could hear the WHOLE TRUTH... and knew everything about the defendant ... there would be a lot more people going to prison..

but instead... so much is kept from the jury...
to me...
it's a bunch of crap...
like my hubbby said... they're up there on the stand trying to sift thru their minds what the "can" and "can't" say...

buffalodickdy said...

Moral of story- If you're gonna shoot at people- "Don't let them get away- to lie again another day")...

The Lowest Rated Blog said...

To protect the guilty

The system is setup to protect the guilty and to force the victims to prove that the guilty is indeed guilty. Last week I took the stand in the court, I was not allowed by the prosecutor or defense councel to give the judge the whole picture and I fear that the neighborhood stalker is going to walk free AGAIN.

In ref to the two border patrol agents, this case is well known here because this is a US Border Patrol-friendly town and there are a couple of local talk show radio hosts that have followed the case from day one. Time for real justice.

Have a productive week and talk to you in a couple of days.

cfs

Paul Champagne said...

debbie ... I believe this prosecution was an attempt by the Bush administration to curry favor with the Mexican government. As if Mexico wants drug dealers to go free!

terri ... the way our laws are written, there is too broad a definition as to what may be prejudicial to the defense. This usually handicaps the prosecution ... in this case it worked against the defense.

buffalo ... I am a firm believer of aiming "center-mass". A dead felon can't come back and sue you.

tlrb ... yes it is set up that way. Someone once said, "It is better that a hundred guilty men go free than for one innocent one to be convicted" ... or something similar (it might have been John Jay). Personally, I think that's crap ... but then again I would probably change my mind if I were ever falsely accused.

Tapline said...

If indeed it is as the judge says. They should be freed immediately With full back pay and allowances. paid legal fees and allowed to go after whomever civilly as they see fit.....Gov or not.....stay well.....

In_spired said...

I go with Buff on this one!

It's stories such as this that have caused me to lose my faith in our judicial system...

Criminey!! What next?

Superstar said...

I can't stand hearing stories like this. I just get so mad that 1. we don't legalize pot. and 2. that we Americans have less rights than smugglers. I mean, why is it that the constitution continues to provide the people who DONT follow the rules more and more rights while the rest of us get less and less....