The case against the alleged killers of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has disappeared from federal court records, apparently sealed by a federal judge.
In May, federal prosecutors won an indictment against Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and others, and they announced it with a press release. Only Osorio-Arellanes' name was visible in the indictment, but there were blacked-out words where other defendants' names go.
Osorio-Arellanes was charged with second-degree murder and was not considered the likely shooter. He had been wounded during the gunfight that left Terry dead.
But in the ensuing months, the case disappeared from court records.
Why? Nobody is saying.
Asked about the case, Debra Hartman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego, which is prosecuting the case, said by email: "Yes, our office is handling the case and can't comment further."
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council's Local 2544, said agents have grown frustrated with the lack of transparency in the case.
First, he said, there was the long silence surrounding the origins of the assault rifles discovered at the scene, eventually revealed to have been set loose into the community as part of a federal firearms investigation. Now there's this: a criminal investigation that has disappeared from public view.
Terry and fellow members of the Border Patrol's tactical unit were patrolling an area west of Rio Rico on Dec. 14, looking for bandits who prey on illegal border-crossers, when gunfire broke out.
In the months that followed, it emerged that two assault-style rifles left at the scene had been sold in the Phoenix area and allowed into the community as part of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive investigation into gun smugglers. The investigation, called Operation Fast and Furious, is the subject of a congressional investigation and a Justice Department internal investigation.
Terry's parents have hired attorneys and are considering a wrongful-death suit against the U.S. government.
Contact reporter Tim Steller at 807-8427 or firstname.lastname@example.org