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BISBEE – A Cochise County judge on Monday ordered a Border Patrol agent to stand trial on a second-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of an illegal immigrant in January.
Cochise County Justice Court Judge David Morales dismissed a first-degree murder charge against Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Corbett, saying probable cause had not been proven, which requires premeditation. But he said “probable cause does exist that the crimes charged occurred” on the other counts.
Instead of the second-degree murder charge, the jury could convict Corbett on a lesser charge of manslaughter or negligent homicide.
Morales said Corbett would be bound over to Superior Court for an arraignment, but the 41-year-old agent remained free on his own recognizance.
Corbett declined comment.
Morales’ ruling came at the end of a lengthy one-day hearing at which nine witnesses testified, including two brothers of the shooting victim, Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera.
The three brothers and girlfriend of one of them were stopped by Corbett on Jan. 12.
Corbett stopped the four and shot Francisco Dominguez after alleging that the illegal immigrant was threatening to throw a rock at him, court documents said. Testimony from prosecution witnesses and forensic evidence indicated Dominguez was shot from no more than two and half feet away.