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Border Patrol agent to be retried in cross-border killing

PHOENIX (AP) – A U.S. Border Patrol agent who was acquitted of second-degree murder while jurors deadlocked on lesser counts will be retried, an attorney for the family of the rock-throwing teen killed in a border shooting in Arizona said Friday.

Attorney Luis Parra said he was in a federal courtroom in Tucson when U.S. prosecutors announced they would retry agent Lonnie Swartz for manslaughter.

The news was met with joy by the family of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, who was shot in 2012 on a street just south of the border in Nogales.

“I’m relieved and very much appreciate the efforts” of the U.S. attorney’s office, the boy’s grandfather Jose Elena said.

Activists called for the retrial while rallying outside the U.S. District Court building before the hearing.

The jury in the first trial declared a mistrial last month after they acquitted Swartz of murder and deadlocked on verdicts involving voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

Elena Rodriguez was killed when Swartz fired 16 shots through a 20-foot (6-meter) fence on an embankment above Calle Internacional, a Nogales street lined with homes and small businesses.

Prosecutors acknowledged during the month-long trial that the teen was lobbing rocks across the border during a drug smuggling attempt but said he did not deserve to die.

Defense attorneys countered that Swartz was justified in using lethal force against rock-throwers and shot from the U.S. side of the border in self-defense.

The new trial was set for Oct. 23 and is expected to last two months.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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