U.S. Senators from both parties are criticizing key aspects of the controversial prosecution of two Border Patrol agents from Texas sentenced to more than a decade in prison for shooting and wounding an unarmed, fleeing Mexican drug smuggler, reports the Houston Chronicle. Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos are serving 12- and 11-year prison sentences, respectively, for shooting Osvaldo Aldrete Davila after a 2005 high-speed chase outside El Paso. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who chaired a Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, called it a case of prosecutorial overreaction. Feinstein, Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn and other senators described the former agents’ punishment as excessive.
Patty Compean demanded that President Bush pardon her husband, who she said “was doing his job.” The agents’ cause is championed by conservatives who contend the Justice Department sided with a drug trafficker at the expense of agents who daily face difficult challenges patrolling an ever more violent U.S.-Mexico boundary. It has become a headache for the White House and Border Patrol as well, with the administration being bombarded with hundreds of thousands of petitions, e-mails and calls urging Bush to pardon the men. U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton defended the prosecution yesterday under persistent questioning. “Agents Compean and Ramos crossed the line. They are not heroes,” Sutton testified. “They deliberately shot an unarmed man in the back without justification, destroyed evidence to cover it up and lied about it. These are serious crimes.”