Judge Agrees to Dismiss Some Charges in Sanctuary Trial
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ A federal judge Friday granted a prosecution request to dismiss one count against each of three of the 11 sanctuary movement members accused of conspiring to smuggle alines.
Also Friday, U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll selected the last of 41 prospective jurors. Prosecution and defense attorneys were to challenge individual prospective jurors Tuesday, and Carroll said he hoped to seat the final 15-member jury panel and perhaps hear opening arguments the same day.
The defendants, all members of the sanctuary movement, are charged with conspiring to smuggle aliens across the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Some also are charged with smuggling, transporting and harboring illegal aliens.
Donald M. Reno Jr., special assistant U.S. attorney, had asked Carroll earlier Friday to dismiss one charge each against the Rev. Ramon Dagoberto Quinones, James A. Corbett Jr. and Mary Kay Doan Espinoza.
The three still face other charges in the case, Reno said.
Defense attorneys were pleased with Reno’s decision to drop the charges but were unable to calculate immediately how many of the counts from the original 71-count indictment remained. Charges against two people indicted in January were dismissed, and three other defendants pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts. Other charges have been consolidated.
Reno said the count against Corbett should be dropped because the defendant was charged under an incorrect section of U.S. immigration laws.
The count against Quinones was dropped because of a legal technicality, he said. ″I just feel that there are enough allegations in the indictment that there will be proof on, and I feel that this charge will not be appropriate,″ Reno said.
The count against Mrs. Espinoza was dropped because ″she did not transport this particular individual on that particular day,″ he said.
The defendants include two men considered the founders of the sanctuary movement, Corbett, 52, a Quaker activist and retired rancher, and the Rev. John M. Fife III, 45, a Presbyterian minister, both of Tucson.
Other defendants who are members of the clergy include the Rev. Anthony Clark, 37, of Nogales, Ariz.; Quinones, 49, of Nogales, Mexico, and Sister Darlene Nicgorski, 41, of Phoenix.
The other defendants are Philip Willis-Conger, 27, Tucson; Mrs. Espinosa, 30, of Nogales, Ariz.; Peggy Hutchison, 30, Tucson; Wendy LeWin, 26, Phoenix; Nena MacDonald, 38, Lubbock, Texas; and Maria del Socorro Pardo de Aguilar, 58, Nogales, Mexico.