Man convicted of killing Border Patrol agent receives life sente - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man convicted of killing Border Patrol agent receives life sentence

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In this undated photo released by the U.S. Border Patrol on Jan. 24, 2008, agent Luis Aguilar is shown. Aguilar, 32, was placing spike strips in the path of two vehicles believed to have illegally entered the United States from Mexico. In this undated photo released by the U.S. Border Patrol on Jan. 24, 2008, agent Luis Aguilar is shown. Aguilar, 32, was placing spike strips in the path of two vehicles believed to have illegally entered the United States from Mexico.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A drug smuggler who intentionally ran over and killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent as the victim's partner tried to lay a spike strip to stop the defendant from fleeing into Mexico was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.

Jesus Navarro-Montes, 25, was convicted in April of second-degree murder and drug charges in the death of 32-year-old Border Agent Luis Aguilar, who was run over by a Hummer H2 filled with drugs on Jan. 19, 2008.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Navarro-Montes faced a stark choice that fateful day in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

"The choice was he could run over the spike strip that Border Patrol Luis Aguilar had helped lay down, or he could turn and run over Agent Luis Aguilar and continue his flight," Duffy said after the sentencing. "Luis Aguilar was a vulnerable victim standing in a road. Jesus Navarro was a skilled, off-road driver who for a living ran drugs for drug-trafficking organizations through the dunes and through the deserts."

"He knew Luis Aguilar was a law enforcement agent, and he chose to turn his vehicle and to run Agent Aguilar down just to escape with his load of drugs back to Mexico."

Defense attorney David Bartick said there was no evidence that Aguilar was able to identify himself as a law enforcement officer to the defendant, noting the agent was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans the day he was killed.

But U.S. District Judge Michael Anello said Navarro-Montes knew Aguilar was a law enforcement official.

The judge said the defendant falsely testified before and during trial, denying that he confessed to Mexican authorities and denying that he was the driver of the ill-fated Hummer.

Arianna Aguilar, one of the victim's two small children, read a statement in court, telling the defendant that he took something very special away from her.

"I can't believe you killed my dad," the second-grader said. "He was very special ... not like any other dad."

Navarro-Montes was first arrested on Jan. 22, 2008, in Sonora, Mexico, and held in a Mexicali prison until June 2008, when he was released because U.S. authorities did not ask for his extradition, according to Mexican authorities.

He was indicted February 2009 by a grand jury in San Diego and charged with possession with intent to distribute 980 pounds of marijuana in September 2007.

He was re-arrested Feb. 11, 2009 near Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and extradited to the United States to face murder and other charges in the death of Aguilar.

THIS IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS STORY BELOW.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Mexican drug smuggler who ran over and killed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border patrol agent in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

Jesus Navarro-Montes was convicted in April of second-degree murder and drug charges in the death of 32-year-old Border Agent Agent Luis Aguilar, who was run over by a Hummer H2 filled with drugs on Jan. 19, 2008.

Prosecutor David Leshner told jurors that Navarro-Montes callously ran over Aguilar in an attempt to escape agents and return to Mexico. Defense attorney David Bartick said his client was not the driver of the drug-laden vehicle.

At sentencing Friday, Navarro-Montes faces a maximum prison sentence of life in prison on the murder charge and 40 years on the narcotics charges.

He was first arrested on Jan. 22, 2008, in Sonora, Mexico, and held in a Mexicali prison until June 2008, when he was released because U.S. authorities did not ask for his extradition, according to Mexican authorities.

Navarro-Montes was indicted February 2009 by a grand jury in San Diego and charged with possession with intent to distribute 980 pounds of marijuana in September 2007.

He was re-arrested Feb. 11, 2009 near Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and extradited to the United States to face murder and other charges in the death of Aguilar.

One issue in the case was whether the agent was in uniform at the time of the crash.

"If my son was not wearing a uniform, that does not give you the right to take his life," the victim's mother, Rosa, said at Friday's sentencing.

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