Family of slain Mexican immigrant wins settlement

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2011 5:58 PM
Family of slain Mexican immigrant wins settlement

By Brad Poole

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - The family of a Mexican illegal immigrant shot dead after he crossed the Arizona-Mexico border has accepted an $850,000 settlement in a lawsuit against the federal government and a Border Patrol agent tried in the death, lawyers said on Thursday.

Nicholas Corbett was twice tried on charges including second-degree murder for shooting dead Francisco Dominguez Rivera in 2007 on a remote stretch of the border, but both trials ended with a hung jury.

The shooting occurred in an isolated area between Naco and Douglas, where Dominguez, 22, had crossed north with his two brothers and one of their girlfriends. Corbett said he fired after Dominguez threatened him with a rock, although prosecutors said the shooting was unprovoked.

The settlement was reached through a mediator and has been approved by the Attorney General's office in Washington, said Federico Sayre, lead attorney for Rivera's family. It will be paid within about 30 days.

Relatives said they would rather have seen a conviction for the killing, but were satisfied that "some degree" of justice had been served, Sayre told Reuters.

"This is the next best thing," said Sayre, who also represented Rodney King in his civil case against the city of Los Angeles.

Prosecutors decided not to seek a third trial for Corbett, because the case did not meet a standard of having a "reasonable likelihood of conviction," Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer said.

The shooting drew a sharp rebuke from the Mexican government, which called on the U.S. embassy to investigate what it called "disproportionate violence."

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Cynthia Johnston)