Debra J. Saunders

Later, when Aldrete-Davila was supposedly telling the truth, his story still smelled. As Ramos' defense attorney, Mary Stillinger, said in court, Aldrete-Davila claimed "he's a little mule, and he needed money for his mother's doctor's bills, and he needed money to renew his commercial driver's license"-- which was current. "He doesn't know who hired him. He doesn't know where the stash house is."

Later, Stillinger added, Aldrete-Davila apparently abused the border-crossing card provided by Uncle Sam to assist with the medical care he needed because the bullet severed his urethra. She noted in court, Aldrete-Davila "did it again in October, he personally took the load to the stash house."

Was he smuggling again? Sutton replied, "To our knowledge, Aldrete has not been arrested or indicted on any other loads." The records are sealed.

Oh, and Aldrete-Davila is suing the Border Patrol for $5 million. It doesn't help the prosecution's credibility that Aldrete-Davila testified in court that a family friend, the Border Patrol agent who started this investigation, told Aldrete-Davila that he might sue the Border Patrol and helped him find a lawyer -- which the agent denied.

In addition, three agents testified against Ramos and Compean (with limited immunity for their role in the alleged cover-up), but none of them saw the whole exchange. Two were too busy checking out the drug van to run to the scene when they heard gunshots.

Sutton argues he has to prosecute when his office sees a crime. He told me, "Of course, my office would have preferred to have sent the alien to prison for his crimes, but when the agents broke the law, destroyed the crime scene and covered it up, they made that impossible."

I do not countenance law enforcement officers shooting at unarmed suspects. If that's actually what happened, Ramos and Compean should lose their jobs.

But a just government does not put men who have risked their lives in the line of duty -- men who are not criminals, who did not premeditate their misdeed and who have not been running criminal rackets on the job -- in prison for more than a decade.

When you think of the considerable resources spent on this trial, so that prosecutors could put behind bars two agents who may have screwed up dangerously in the heat of pursuit and lied about it -- in order to help a drug smuggler who has a financial incentive to lie -- you wonder where the justice is. And you cannot see it here.

Debra J. Saunders

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