Feds fight victim status for slain border agent’s familyby Hugh Holub on Aug. 12, 2011, under atf, politics
From USA Today:
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
Federal prosecutors are opposing crime-victim status for the family of a slain U.S. Border Patrol agent in the case of an accused gun dealer who allegedly purchased two weapons recovered at the scene of last year’s Arizona shootout where Agent Brian Terry was killed.
Victim status, among other things, gives family members the right to be notified of court proceedings in the case, confer with prosecutors on matters related to the case, testify at sentencing or parole hearings and receive restitution.
Neither of the weapons allegedly bought by Jaime Avila has been positively identified as the gun that killed Terry, but the firearms also have not been ruled out as murder weapons.
The weapons were among about 2,000 guns purchased by unlicensed dealers who were subjects of a controversial federal gun-trafficking investigation launched in 2009 in which hundreds of the weapons were allowed to fall into hands of violent drug traffickers in Mexico and criminals in the U.S.
The investigation, known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” was ended after Terry’s death in 2010.
Still, federal prosecutors urged a judge not to confer victim status on the Terry family, arguing that the agent was not “directly and proximately” harmed by Avila’s alleged act.
Avila is charged with conspiring to deal in firearms without a license, dealing firearms without a license and making false statements during the firearm purchases.
“The victim of the offenses is not any particular person, but society in general,” prosecutors said in court documents.
The Terry family was not immediately available for comment. But the family’s legal team said it would respond to the government’s action in court papers next week.
“It’s the government trying to cover its backside and minimize the embarrassment over a failed gun investigation. There is no other reason for this.”
COMMENT: It is obvious that US Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke…an Obama appointee and up to his ass in the ATF Fast and Furious scandal does not want the truth exposed as to what happened.
From The Examiner:
U.S. Attorney in Phoenix adds insult to injury of slain agent’s family
By Dave Workman
United States Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix, a key figure in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal that exploded following the December 2010 murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, has filed a motion opposing the Terry family’s requested intervention as “crime victims” in the criminal case against alleged gun trafficker Jaime Avila.
From Human Events:
by John Hayward
Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder at the hands of Mexican criminals carrying at least one weapon from the ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” brought that awful program to a screeching halt. The straw purchaser who secured the weapon carried by Terry’s killers, a 23-year-old Phoenix man named Jamie Avila, is now on trial for gun-trafficking offenses.
Agent Terry’s family asked to be granted status as crime victims, so they could talk with prosecutors and speak at Avila’s sentencing. It’s a routine request… but to the surprise of many observers, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona has denied them. William LaJeunesse of Fox News reports:
U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke argues because the family was not “directly or proximately harmed” by the illegal purchase of the murder weapon, it does not meet the definition of “crime victim” in the Avila case. Burke claims the victim of the Avila’s gun purchases, “is not any particular person, but society in general.”
Prominent litigator and the former U.S. Attorney in Florida, Kendall Coffey disagrees.
“The government apparently is saying they’re not victims, even though it was a federal crime that put the murder weapon in the hands of the killer of Brian Terry,” says Coffey. “They are simply rights of respect, rights of communication and the right to be heard.”
Gosh, it’s a shame Agent Terry was caught in the crossfire when those invaders started shooting at society.
Why would U.S. Attorney Burke issue this unusual decision? Take a wild guess:
Coffey and others wonder if Burke has a conflict. It was his office that led Operation Fast and Furious. The operation, while executed by agents for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was managed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. Hurley drafted the response to the family’s motion. It was signed by Burke.
Congressional investigators are expected to subpoena both to appear before the House Government and Oversight Committee next month to answer questions about the flawed operation that put some 2,000 weapons in the hands of the Sinaloa cartel.
LaJeunesse goes on to speculate that Avila might have cut a deal with prosecutors that would keep him out of jail, a development that would go over especially poorly if Terry’s family was seated in the courtroom, armed with official crime victim status. The family may also be considering a wrongful death suit against the federal government, which would involve Burke. Victim status would pump a lot of energy into that case.