Friday, February 29, 2008

Corbett Trial: Day 2

This is ongoing information-sharing about the murder trial of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Corbett. On the first day of testimony, the brother of Javier Dominguez-Rivera recounted the events of January 12, 2007. Day two gave defense attorneys the opportunity for cross examination.
One of the key contradictions Chapman raised was a statement that the brother gave to Cochise County investigators last year, in which he told investigators he saw Corbett strike his brother Francisco Javier Domínguez Rivera in the head with the butt of his gun.

But there were no bruises on Francisco Javier Domínguez Rivera's head, neck or shoulders, and the brother said he wasn't sure if he was struck specifically with the gun.

"I don't know if he hit him with the butt, this part of the gun, or the hand," the brother said through an interpreter.

Chapman also sought to show that the Mexican Consulate had attempted to influence testimony.

The defense is also trying to claim that the family is lying about their testimony in order to gain citizenship to the U.S.
Finally, Chapman raised a class-action lawsuit Jorge is part of that is pursuing visa and citizenship rights. But prosecutor Grant Woods, a former state attorney general who has been hired by the Cochise County attorney to handle the case, told the jury the class action lawsuit was filed by Catholic Charities and was specifically for illegal entrants who assisted law enforcement with criminal investigations.

Motives are being questioned by the defense while hard facts look to be on the side of the prosecution. The brothers' testimonies align with the video of the shooting that was aired in the courtroom as well as the medical examiner's report. Contradictions are already being exposed in Corbett's accounting of the shooting, with the location of the incident being one of them.
Ritchie also said that she was led to believe — again based on reports of Corbett's initial story to other agents — that the shooting happened behind his vehicle at a distance of about 5 feet.

Forensics evidence has shown the shooting happened at the back right corner of the vehicle at a distance between 3 inches and a foot.
Here are some notes from Derechos Humanos on the day's deliberations:
Interestingly, according to Rene after the shooting but before the arrival of the other agent, Corbett went to his car and began smoking, walking back to where they were with a cigarette in hand. Rene denied anyone, including Francisco Javier, threatening the agent in any form. He further denied talking about what their story would be, stating that the only thing they talked about was what they would tell their parents. He also denied that Francisco Javier ever had a rock in his hand. He stated emphatically that they were all surrendering to Corbett when it happened.

The defense attorney then began his cross-examination. He did not shake Rene, though he tried to highlight that they kept walking as Corbett was driving, that they did not just stop and surrender. He made Rene state several times that it was Francisco Javier who had made arrangements with the coyote, and that since he was the only one who had been to the US, they did not know much about how they would be picked up. (During the testimony of Det. Ritchie it was established that the airline tickets for all four of them were found in the backpacks.) The attorney made it a point to make him admit that they crossed illegally, and that they wanted to go back to México and come to cross illegally again. Cross-examination to continue tomorrow.

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