U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in 2010 during a firefight with an alleged rip-off crew near Nogales. Two rifles being monitored by the government as part of its "Fast and Furious" operation were found at the crime scene.
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and four other Mexican nationals have been charged in Agent Terry's killing. However, three of the four are still fugitives.
On Tuesday, Osoroio-Arellanes entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, pleading guilty to first-degree murder, The Associated Press reports.
Osorio-Arllanes reportedly told investigators that he and his crew had snuck into the United States about a week before the shooting. The group allegedly stashed guns and food on the U.S. side of the border and searched for drug smugglers to rob.
On Dec. 14, 2010, the group was reportedly looking for smugglers when it ran into Border Patrol agents. Terry was killed in the ensuing firefight. Osorio-Arellanes was shot and taken into custody.
There are two forms of first-degree murder under Arizona's criminal code. The most common form is a deliberate, premeditated murder, meaning the perpetrator intended to kill the victim.
Osorio-Arellanes is probably accused of the second type, known as felony murder. If a person is killed while the defendant and his accomplices were committing a dangerous felony, the defendant can be charged with first-degree murder, even if he didn't directly kill the person. Dangerous felonies include robbery, sexual assault, burglary, and drug crimes.
Authorities haven't said whether they believe Osorio-Arellanes was the one who fired the fatal shot. Regardless, Osorio-Arellanes could be charged with first-degree murder under the state's accomplice liability law.
Generally, a first-degree murder conviction is punishable by life in prison or even the death penalty. However, under the terms of his plea agreement, Osorio-Arellanes won't face the death penalty.
Authorities have not yet said whether the shot that killed Agent Brian Terry came from a gun that was part of the government's "Fast and Furious" operation. Regardless, the operation drew heavy criticism as a result of the incident. Under "Fast and Furious," authorities sold guns to shady individuals in hopes that it would lead them to drug smugglers and cartels.
- Mexican National Pleads Guilty to Murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry (Phoenix New Times)
- Robbery Overview (FindLaw)
- First Degree Murder Overview (FindLaw)
- San Tan Valley Girl Fakes Her Own Kidnapping (FindLaw's Phoenix Criminal Law Blog)