Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean
The U.S. government admitted today in federal court that the prosecution’s star witness in the criminal trial of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean – confessed drug dealer Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila – lied under oath.
“He told some lies on the stand,” Mark Stelmach, the assistant U.S. attorney representing prosecutor U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton said under questioning by a three-judge 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans.
Ramos and Compean are appealing prison sentences of 11- and 12-years respectively for a 2005 incident in which they fired on Aldrete-Davila as he fled back into Mexico after smuggling 750 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. near Fabens, Texas.
“Today the justice system worked the way it is supposed to,” Tara Setmayer, communications director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., told WND immediately following the hearing.
Setmeyer, who attended the hearing, said, “I feel cautiously optimistic the judges will make a ruling quickly.”
“Based on the nature of the questions from the judges, it seems as though the government made their own bed and now they have to lie in it,” she said.
According to Setmayer, Judge Patrick Errol Higginbotham questioned Stelmach closely about why the prosecution had sought to seal from the jury information about a second smuggling attempt by Aldrete-Davila after Sutton’s office gave him immunity and a border pass.
Higginbotham rebuked Stelmach’s suggestion that Aldrete-Davila’s drug history prior to the Feb. 17, 2005, incident with the border agents was not relevant to the trial. The judge argued the second load was relevant because it showed Aldrete-Davila had a brazen disregard for the law, a key factor in evaluating his testimony for the prosecution.
“It defies common sense in the street world,” Higginbotham told Stelmach, “to believe Aldrete-Davila was a poor mule, as he represented at trial, instead of an actual player in the world of the drug cartels.”
As WND reported, the defense lawyers in the appellate briefs filed for Ramos and Compean had argued that the likelihood Aldrete-Davila was carrying a firearm was greatly increased if he was a major player for the drug cartels.
Aldrete-Davila was the only witness who testified at trial that he was unarmed. Since he was not apprehended and frisked on the scene, it was his word at trial against the word of Ramos and Compean. The border agents both testified they saw Aldrete-Davila pointing a shiny object they believed was a gun as he ran away.
“Before the hearing today we were skeptical because we know the government is good at lying,” Joe Loya, father-in-law of Ramos, told WND in a telephone interview.
“Now we are optimistic justice will prevail,” he said. “The government had to admit today the prosecutors let Aldrete-Davila commit perjury at trial.”
The judges today questioned the government closely about the appropriateness of prosecuting Ramos and Compean under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c), a law passed to require an additional 10-year minimum prison sentence, if felons in the act of committing crimes such as rape or burglary carry a weapon.
WND has reported the Ramos and Compean appellant briefs argued the law was never meant to be applied to law enforcement officers in the pursuit of their duties.
Judge E. Grady Jolly commented the “government overreached” in applying 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) to Ramos and Compean.
Sutton was present today in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals courtroom in New Orleans, but he did not speak or answer questions from the three-judge panel.
In a press statement issued by his office, Sutton claimed the Ramos-Compean case “has always been about the rule of law.”
“Some in the media and on the Internet have tried to portray agents Compean and Ramos as heroes, but that narrative is false,” Sutton said. “The actions of Compean and Ramos in shooting an unarmed, fleeing suspect, destroying evidence and engaging in a cover-up are serious charges.”
Ramos and Compean were prosecuted “to uphold the rule of law,” Sutton claimed.
“A jury rejected their factual claims of innocence after a two week trial,” he continued. “The case is now before the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which will resolve the disputed legal issues in accordance with the rule of law. I look forward to the decision of the Court of Appeals.”
The third member of the three-judge panel was Judge Edward Charles Prado.
The three-judge panel is expected to issue a ruling within four to six weeks.