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Country Singer Acquitted of Murder

October 13, 1999

UVALDE, Texas (AP) _ A jury acquitted country singer Johnny Rodriguez of murder Wednesday in the killing of an acquaintance he claimed was a burglar.

Jurors found Rodriguez innocent in the death of Israel ``Bosco″ Borrego, 26, who was shot once in the abdomen in 1998 at the Rodriguez family home in Sabinal.

Rodriguez’s lawyers had argued that he was justified under Texas law to defend himself and his property.

The 47-year-old singer, who could have faced life in prison, put his face in his hands when the verdict was announced.

``I’m just sorry that the whole incident took place,″ Rodriguez said. ``I don’t want to go through anything like this again.

Rodriguez is best known for his 1970s hits such as ``Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through)″ and ``Ridin’ My Thumb to Mexico″ that soared into the Top 10 on the country charts. His career took a downturn by the 1990s, but he still plays concerts in South Texas.

Uvalde County District Attorney Tony Hackebeil argued Rodriguez was drunk and used a pistol to kill Borrego _ described as a regular drinking buddy _ as Borrego cooked in Rodriguez’s kitchen.

``How hard is it to conclude that he decided, `I’m going to get rid of this pest once and for all?‴ the prosecutor said.

Defense attorneys argued Rodriguez believed Borrego was a burglar.

``He doesn’t go hunting this guy,″ said lawyer Alan Brown. ``This guy pops up, bump in the night, right in his house.″

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