Patterico's Pontifications


DRJ Pores Through the Border Patrol Trial Transcripts – Recalled Witness: Christopher Sanchez (Volume XII)

Filed under: Crime,General,Immigration — DRJ @ 1:32 am

The last prosecution witness was Christopher Sanchez who was recalled by the government to conclude its case.

In this section, all references to “Sanchez” mean Christopher Sanchez. The testimony also discusses Rene Sanchez and, in an effort to minimize confusion, I refer to him as “Rene Sanchez.”

There’s an interesting bench conference at pp. 65-71 regarding Rene Sanchez. It appears Rene Sanchez was indicted, possibly on charges related to the subject of the Blanchette memo. Here’s a link to Volume XII of the transcript. Please correct me if I’ve misread this.

Sanchez was a disciplined witness but there were moments where he provided a glimpse of his personality and maybe even his personal opinion. I think one of those moments came at page 115 where he stated, like Ramos, he would have gone across the ditch to help a fellow agent “in a heartbeat.”

From Transcript XII:

Recalled Witness – Christopher Sanchez:

1-4 – [Jury present. The Court announced that the trial would begin at Noon the following day.]

Government direct examination (by Debra Kanof):

4 – Sanchez first learned of this investigation on March 4, 2005. He previously testified about taking to Aldrete-Davila, taking the agents’ weapons, and finding out about the bullet.

5-6 – Regarding Sanchez’s interviews, no one was forced to talk to the investigators, who generally did an oral interview first and then asked the witness to make a written statement based on the oral interview. The investigators took handwritten notes during the oral interviews so the investigators could transcribe their notes into a transcript if there was a difference between the oral and written statements. There were always 2 investigators present in each interview.

6-7 – The first person Sanchez interviewed was Oscar Juarez. Juarez was the agent asking for a license plate [identification] after the seizure. Sanchez had talked with the tow truck driver who told him only one agent was on the levee when he towed the van, so Sanchez thought Juarez might be that agent and might also be the shooter. In addition, Aldrete-Davila described the agent as a short dark Mexican and that matched Juarez’s picture.

7 – Juarez’s written statement from his first interview with Sanchez was the same as what he said in his oral interview. Juarez did not tell Sanchez that he saw Compean shooting or that Compean made a magazine exchange.

7-8 – Next, Sanchez interviewed Arturo Vasquez. Sanchez was “going down the line” and Vasquez happened to be the next agent they interviewed. Nothing Vasquez told Sanchez made him realize that Juarez had lied.

8 – The next agent to be interviewed was the trainee, Rene Mendez.

8 – Sanchez had other agents assisting him in the interviews on March 18. He did not interview all the agents on that day but he did get reports from those interviews.

8-9 – Juarez said that Ramos and Compean were the agents that chased Aldrete-Davila into the vega, and Vasquez confirmed that and said he heard shots and saw Compean at the CC Bills gate. Thus, Sanchez believed the shooters were Ramos and/or Compean. Sanchez also knew the bullet came from a .40 caliber Beretta like the BP agents use but he did not know it came from Ramos’ gun.

9-10 – To verify that Ramos and/or Compean were the shooters, the investigators “did a ruse.” They took Juarez’s weapon on March 17 and Ramos’ weapon on the morning of March 18, which they immediately took to the Texas DPS’ crime lab for analysis. They didn’t get Compean’s weapon until he was arrested that night.

10-11 – Juarez was interviewed on the evening of March 17. Ramos and Compean were arrested on Friday, March 18. Compean was arrested shortly before midnight Friday night and Ramos was arrested around 9 PM. Sanchez communicated with the BP Office of Internal Audit before the arrests on March 18.

11-12 – Sanchez met with the tow truck driver on March 15. That was his first visit to the scene. The tow truck driver “vividly” recalled the event and the van’s location. He showed Sanchez the marks made by the van tires on the lip of the drainage ditch, which were still there. Sanchez took pictures.

12 – On March 16, Sanchez went on the levee road with the assistance of the BP. Sanchez had a metal detector and he searched the area around the levee, the ditch, and the vega, but he didn’t find anything. Later that day, Sanchez interviewed Aldrete-Davila and got a better idea of where he ran.

12-13 – On March 17, Sanchez returned to the scene along with “the majority of the agents out of my office, one agent I think out of the Office of Internal Audit, and one or two agents out of the sector evidence team.” Agent Blea was not one of the agents from the sector evidence team. They may have only taken one agent from the sector evidence team. There were over 10 agents there. The agents had 2 metal detectors (Sanchez’s and one from the sector evidence team) and they used them to comb the drainage ditch and vega. The agents also got in a line and did a slow walk through the vega looking for evidence – casings and blood – but they didn’t find anything.

14 – On March 17, Sanchez also had the sector evidence team print the van for “any fingerprints that Aldrete-Davila or someone else may have left in that van.” Sanchez believed it was also on March 17 that the sector evidence team went back to the scene to look for the “brass that Arturo Vasquez stated he had thrown into the drainage ditch.” That was the 3rd time they had looked for casings.

14-15 – The Sierra Delta drainage ditch is deep at different times of the year and it flows.

15 – In his first interview on March 17, Juarez said he knew nothing about a shooting and only saw Ramos and Compean chase Aldrete-Davila over the vega. Juarez called Sanchez on the morning of March 18 to say that he recalled hearing one or two shots. Juarez requested a proffer letter to provide further information.

16 – [Sanchez apparently wasn’t sure what a proffer letter was, although he did understand it after he read it.] Sanchez has worked with US Attorney’s offices in other jurisdictions. They function “basically” identical.

16-18 – After Juarez requested a proffer letter, Sanchez contacted Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) Brandy Gardes. She authorized the proffer letter and faxed it to them on March 18 when Juarez came to Sanchez’s office for an interview. Two other agents interviewed Juarez and communicated that information to Sanchez. Sanchez sat with Juarez while he wrote his statement. The agents did not transcribe the oral interview notes because there were no “substantial differences” between the written and oral statements.

17 – Arturo Vasquez came into the office while Juarez was there on March 18. Sanchez didn’t want the agents to know who was talking to the investigators.

18 – After reading the written statement, Sanchez didn’t believe Juarez was telling the whole truth.

18-19 – The agents who had interviewed Juarez then interviewed Arturo Vasquez. Vasquez, who was represented by an attorney (Bill Ellis?), also requested a proffer letter.

19 – The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security as 8 agents and 1 supervisor in El Paso. They were all helping with these interviews, and they were all “more or less” involved in this investigation.

19-20 – On March 17-18, Juarez spoke to Sanchez and requested a proffer letter before getting an attorney. Juarez subsequently retained Gary Weiser. Vasquez had an attorney and requested a proffer letter before his interview, so Sanchez had a proffer letter for Vasquez before his interview.

20 – Sanchez also spoke with Rene Mendez but he didn’t have much to offer except he saw Compean get in his vehicle on the levee.

20 – Jacquez invoked his right to remain silent, stated he wanted an attorney, and did not speak with Sanchez. Sanchez later spoke with Jacquez with his attorney.

20-21 – Sanchez decided to talk to Juarez again. It was under the terms of the proffer letter and Juarez had his attorney with him. Sanchez doesn’t recall if the attorney asked that his client, Juarez, be re-interviewed.

21 – Juarez was interviewed for a third time. Juarez, his attorney Gary Weiser, Sanchez, and the prosecutor were there. Sanchez doesn’t recall whether one or both prosecutors (Gonzalez/Kanof) were there. By that time, Gonzalez and Kanof had been assigned to prosecute the case.

22 – [The Court sustained a defense objection to a question whether Sanchez thought Juarez was lying.]

22-23 – In his third interview, Juarez told Sanchez that “he observed Mr. Compean shooting and exchanging magazines and shooting. He stated that he also observed Mr. Compean attempt to strike Aldrete-Davila. And he stated that he observed Mr. Compean slip into the drainage ditch, and Aldrete-Davila run around and over the levee.”

23 – Sanchez did not hear anyone tell Vasquez what to say. Prior to the interview, Vasquez’s attorney had not told Sanchez what Vasquez would say.

23-24 – Sanchez arrested Compean before Midnight on Friday, March 18. They took Compean to the [OIG] office and interviewed him until they took him home around 4 AM Saturday morning. Sanchez transcribed Compean’s oral interview and took a written statement.

24-25 – In the oral interview, Sanchez asked Compean to explain what happened from the drainage ditch on. Compean said “he was on the levee. He got down off the levee. He had a shotgun, and he observed [the driver ***] went into the drainage ditch. And, as Mr. Aldrete-Davila was coming up the south side of the drainage ditch, Mr. Compean pointed his shotgun at him and told him several times in Spanish to Stop, put your hands up” in Spanish [Parate].” Compean said he used no obscenities.

25 – Compean did not tell Sanchez he felt threatened by the van.

26 – Compean’s story started when Aldrete-Davila exited the van and came up through the drainage ditch. Compean said Aldrete-Davila raised his hands: “I had him demonstrate. When he was sitting in his chair, like I am, he had — basically bent at the elbow, palms facing outward, towards Mr. Compean” with fingers spread apart.

26-28 – Aldrete-Davila continued to come toward Compean even though Compean had told him to stop. Compean said he heard someone yell “Hit him, Hit him.” Compean knew Ramos and other agents were at the scene but he didn’t know who said it.

28-29 – Compean was aiming at Aldrete-Davila with the shotgun when he heard “Hit him, Hit him” and he took the shotgun out of his shoulder and attempted to push Aldrete-Davila into the drainage ditch. [Sanchez demonstrated what Compean had told/shown him.]

29-30 – Sanchez pointed out to Compean that the position of his shotgun was unsafe and Aldrete-Davila could have reached up and pulled the trigger or rip the shotgun out of Compean’s hands. Compean did not say that Aldrete-Davila reached for the shotgun or that he feared for his life at that moment. Sanchez believes Aldrete-Davila’ hands were still raised.

30 – Sanchez did not ask Compean if he had pepper spray with him.

30 – Compean told Sanchez that when he was maneuvering to push Aldrete-Davila back into the drainage ditch, Compean slipped into the ditch. Sanchez did not ask what direction he slipped or what happened to his shotgun.

30-31 – Compean told Sanchez that, after he slipped, Aldrete-Davila ran around him and over the levee. Compean got up and ran after him and “jumped on the back of Aldrete-Davila, and they rolled into the south slope of the levee into the vega, and they wrestled” and rolled “from the south slope of the levee down into the vega.” Compean never said Aldrete-Davila attempted to strike him or do anything in an aggressive manner.

[NOTE from DRJ: Compean said they wrestled. Isn’t that aggressive?]

31 – Compean never told Sanchez “That bitch took me to the ground and threw dirt in my face.”

31 – Compean never mentioned Aldrete-Davila had a gun.

31-32 – Compean heard “Hit him, Hit him” and turned the “butt of his rifle down.” Aldrete-Davila said, “Don’t hit me. Don’t hit me” in Spanish. Sanchez doesn’t recall if Compean said these things in his oral or his written statement.

32-33 – When Compean and Aldrete-Davila were on the vega, Compean’s written statement said that Aldrete-Davila broke free and Compean “got dirt in his eyes.” In his oral statement, Compean said “Aldrete-Davila might have thrown dirt in his eyes.” That discrepancy is one of the reasons Sanchez transcribed the oral statement.

33-34 – Compean told Sanchez that Aldrete-Davila broke free from his grasp and began to run toward Mexico. Compean did not see any weapons when he broke free but as he ran toward Mexico, “Compean stated he observed something shiny in Aldrete-Davila’s left hand.” Compean saw “something shiny, which he thought was a gun, and that’s why he started firing.” Sanchez doesn’t recall if this was in Compean’s oral or written statement or both.

34-35 – Compean said he “observed the shiny object, and he was running. And what concerned him is that Aldrete-Davila continued to look back towards his direction.” Compean did not say that Aldrete-Davila pointed the shiny object at him or fired it. Compean said he held it in his left hand. Sanchez noticed that Aldrete-Davila always wrote with this right hand. Sanchez had Aldrete-Davila draw maps and he always drew with his right hand. He always pointed out things on photos with his right hand.

35 – [The prosecutor asked to refresh Sanchez’s recollection regarding the oral and written statements. The Court sustained a defense objection because Sanchez never said he couldn’t recall something.]

35-36 – Sanchez could not recall if Compean talked about the gun in his oral or written statements. After reviewing an unidentified document, Sanchez stated that “Compean saw something shiny in his left hand, Aldrete-Davila’s left hand, and then added he was never certain that Aldrete-Davila had a gun.”

36 – Compean admitted that he shot at Aldrete-Davila 10 or 11 times while in the vega. Later on, Compean retrieved some shell casings. He said he retrieved them on the levee. He did not say he retrieved them in the vega.

36-37 – Compean stood in the vega, “holstered his weapon and watched Aldrete-Davila come up on the south side of — on the Mexican side, the Mexican vega.” There is no place to take cover in the vega and Compean did not say he took cover as he watched Aldrete-Davila.

37-38 – Compean told Sanchez that “he observed Aldrete-Davila limping, and assumed he had been shot” and that’s when Compean turned and began to retrieve his shell casings. Compean walked back to the levee.

38-39 – When Compean was on the levee, one of the agents (Mendez or Yrigoyen) told him Aldrete-Davila got in a white car or van in Mexico. Compean did not say whether he told Mendez or Yrigoyen to take cover.

39-40 – Compean told Sanchez that he told Jacquez and Mendoza about the shooting and that he thought Aldrete-Davila had been shot. In their interviews, Jacquez said that did occur but Mendoza said it did not.

40 – [After Sanchez refreshed his recollection by looking at Compean’s statement:] Compean said that Arnold or Richards told him to return to the station and do the paperwork. As he was returning, Compean saw Vasquez at the CC Bills gate. Vasquez said he heard shots and asked what happened. Compean told him Aldrete-Davila threw dirt in his eyes and Compean shot at him.

40-41 – Compean knew Vasquez was going back to wait for the tow truck so he asked Vasquez to pick up his missing shell casings. When Compean was back at the station, Vasquez called and said he picked up the casing and threw them in the ditch.

41 – Compean told Sanchez he did not report the shooting because he thought he would get in trouble. He kept repeating that and would not elaborate.

41 – Sanchez took Compean’s written statement and typed it into a separate report.

41-42 – Compean told Sanchez that, in shooting at Aldrete-Davila, his intent was to kill because “He thought he had a gun, but he stated he was never certain that he had a gun.”

42 – There were 2 differences between Compean’s oral and written statements: “in the written statement, he stated, I thought I got dirt in my eyes. And then — in the oral statement, he stated Aldrete-Davila might have thrown dirt in his eyes. And also, I think in the oral statement he did not recall Vasquez — Vasquez picked up any casings, or notified him about it. In the written statement he does recall that Vasquez did contact him and tell him that he had thrown — picked up the casings and threw them away.”

43 – After taking Compean’s statement, Sanchez processed Compean, took him to county [for arrest], finished his investigation and sent it to the US Attorney’s office.

Ramos cross-examination (by Mary Stillinger):

43-44 – Sanchez’s initial goal as to find out if Aldrete-Davila was shot by a BP agent and, if so, why. Sanchez first had to find the person that was shot. Then, to maintain the integrity of the evidence, Sanchez asked Aldrete-Davila to have the bullet removed in the US instead of Mexico. Once Sanchez had the bullet and it matched to Ramos’ gun, Sanchez had strong evidence that Ramos shot Aldrete-Davila.

44-45 – As for why Aldrete-Davila was shot, law enforcement officers sometimes have to shoot people and those shootings are not crimes “if they report it and it’s investigated and it’s a good shoot.”

45 – Initially, Sanchez implied that not reporting a shooting could make it a bad shoot. After questioning, he stated that not reporting a shooting was a violation of BP policy and does not, by itself, make a shooting illegal.

45-46 – Before participating in charging someone with assault with intent to kill, Sanchez would want to know as much facts as he could about whether it was a good shoot. Thus, Sanchez wanted to talk to Aldrete-Davila and he wanted to know whether Aldrete-Davila had a gun and whether he threatened or assaulted the agents.

46-47 – It’s important if Aldrete-Davila had a gun. The only people on the vega who know if he had a gun are Ramos, Compean, and Aldrete-Davila.

47-48 – Sanchez first contact with this case was when he started the investigation March 4 after receiving 2 memos from the El Paso Office of Internal Audit written by Rene Sanchez and his supervisor, R. Karhoff. Sanchez had not previously known or contacted Rene Sanchez. It was initially presented to Sanchez that Aldrete-Davila was attempting to enter illegally and was shot in the back while attempting to retreat.

48-50 – Sanchez later found out this was a lie, so every report Sanchez wrote in this case started out with a lie based on false information provided by Rene Sanchez. Sanchez interviewed Rene Sanchez on March 10 and Aldrete-Davila on March 11, and learned about the drugs from Rene Sanchez on March 10 and in a telephone conversation with Aldrete-Davila on March 11.

50-52 – The first time Sanchez spoke with Aldrete-Davila was on the telephone on March 11. Aldrete-Davila told him that he had a load of drugs and that he exited the van with his hands up. Aldrete-Davila made it sound like he tried “to surrender as soon as he got out of the van.” Sanchez stated [and initially tried to excuse as an interpretation problem and/or as confusion from a brief conversation] that Aldrete-Davila did not mention the drainage ditch or his running in the first conversation.

52-53 – Aldrete-Davila asked for immunity in his first conversation with Sanchez, and Sanchez told him he would try to get it. Sanchez could not arrest Aldrete-Davila over the telephone and did not know where Aldrete-Davila was living other than in Mexico. Sanchez did not discuss with Rene Sanchez the possibility of immunity for Aldrete-Davila.

53 – Sanchez interviewed Aldrete-Davila in Ciudad Juarez on March 16. That’s when he learned that Aldrete-Davila had lied about trying to surrender immediately after exiting the van.

53-55 – Aldrete-Davila also lied to Sanchez on March 11 and on March 16 (after he had an immunity agreement) when he said that he flagged down a passerby to get a ride back to Mexico, when in fact he was picked up by a friend. Sanchez found out it was a lie the “third or fourth time” he spoke to Aldrete-Davila, when he specifically asked about the person who picked him up. Aldrete-Davila told Sanchez that:

“… the two people in the white car, which was observed by, I believe, Lorenzo Yrigoyen and Rene Mendez, were the two persons that had dropped him off near where he initially crossed into the United States.
I asked him specifically who got out of the car. He stated they did not get out of the car. They passed him, they slowed down, they passed him. And then the van, a friend of his, who was not involved with the organization, pulled up and put him in the back of the van and then took him to a clinic.”

55 – Sanchez did not recall if Aldrete-Davila said his friend was involved in the drug organization. Aldrete-Davila refused to name his friend because he said he wasn’t involved and he didn’t want to get him involved.

56-57 – “[O]ne of the conditions [of the immunity agreement] is you must neither attempt to protect any person or entity nor falsely implicate any person or entity.” Sanchez told AUSA Brandy Gardes that Aldrete-Davila would not name his friend. The immunity agreement is between the US Attorney’s office and Aldrete-Davila, and “the U.S. Attorney could have said, I’m sorry, we don’t have an agreement unless you abide by the terms of the agreement” but they didn’t do that.

57-58 –Aldrete-Davila called Sanchez after reading the papers about a weapon and volunteered that he did not have a gun or anything shiny in his hand that day, and that he is right-handed. Sanchez believes that was March 16. Sanchez did not ask Aldrete-Davila if he had a gun on March 11.

58 – Sanchez asked if Aldrete-Davila had a cellular phone, because that could be shiny, but Aldrete-Davila said the only phone he had was the one he left in the van.

58-59 – Sanchez verified what Aldrete-Davila said using the testimony of the other agents and asking the US Embassy in Juarez to request a criminal history on Aldrete-Davila. That came back negative.

59-60 – Aldrete-Davila told Sanchez that he committed this offense because his mother was ill and because he needed money to renew his commercial driver’s license. Sanchez asked Aldrete-Davila to bring documentation to verify that, but when Aldrete-Davila brought his Pemex and commercial driver’s licenses they had not expired. As he said in court, Aldrete-Davila explained to Sanchez that the licenses were hard to read and understand.

60 – Sanchez did not record his interview with Aldrete-Davila and, unlike the BP agents, he never asked Aldrete-Davila to make a written statement.

60-61 – Rene Sanchez told Sanchez that he knew Aldrete-Davila because his mother-in-law and Aldrete-Davila’s mother had “grown up as little girls” and were close friends, and Rene Sanchez knew Aldrete-Davila growing up in San Isidro.

61 – Sanchez asked Aldrete-Davila why he smuggled drugs and Aldrete-Davila told him it was because he needed money for his mother’s illness and expired licenses.

61-63 – [Bench conference regarding question by defense counsel asking whether Sanchez questioned Aldrete-Davila about any other illegal activities. The prosecutor objected to questions regarding other incidents as irrelevant. Defense counsel argued it was relevant “because he got a sweet deal” and to show “what kind of background investigation” was done when “you don’t ask him a question about anything other than what happens on February 17th.” The Court sustained the objection: “The only deal he got was immunity for this incident. So I’m not sure what any prior activity or subsequent has to do with this.”]

63-64 – Sanchez learned in May that Aldrete-Davila filed a $5M lawsuit against the US government. Sanchez did not know that Rene Sanchez talked to Aldrete-Davila about immunity or about a lawsuit, nor did he know that Rene Sanchez found a lawyer for Aldrete-Davila. Sanchez found that out for the first time when Aldrete-Davila testified at this trial. [The Court sustained the prosecutor’s objection to a question whether Sanchez would have been interested in learning this information.] Sanchez asked Rene Sanchez and Aldrete-Davila about their relationship and neither one mentioned “this aspect” of the relationship.

64-65 – Sanchez learned for the first time at this trial that “Rene Sanchez and Aldrete-Davila had spent time together socially in Mexico between the time of the shooting and [the trial].”

65 – Sanchez was never given information about Rene Sanchez that made Sanchez more cautious as time went on.

65-71 – [Defense counsel began a question regarding a July memo and the prosecutor objected. Bench conference regarding a memo in which “[Agent] Nolan Blanchette told his supervisors that Rene Sanchez had information about horse trailers being used to traffic.” Defense counsel wanted to question Sanchez about any bias in favor of Rene Sanchez:]

“MS. STILLINGER: Well, Ms. Kanof had him testify a lot about who he believed and who he didn’t believe and the steps he took in his investigation, based on what he believed and what he didn’t believe. This guy gets a memo in July, where somebody is saying — not terrible, but saying, I have concerns about Rene Sanchez. And it’s not terrible, but he seems unusually well informed. This witness does — instead of investigating it, he turns the memo over to Rene Sanchez, so Rene Sanchez can call Blanchette and say, Why are you writing these things about me? It’s not normal behavior. It’s not normal behavior, I don’t think, for an OIG agent to turn over an investigatory memo within hours of having received it, turn it over to the subject of the memo. And I think that shows his bias in this investigation.
THE COURT: I guess my concern is, this guy has already been indicted, has he not?
MS. STILLINGER: Right. But this — this is the same time period when he [Sanchez] was yelling at other agents and getting them to come clean because he doesn’t believe them.”

71 – The Court sustained the prosecutor’s objection to the questioning involving that [Blanchette memo] document but permitted the defense to proceed with questions in a bill of exception.

71 – Aldrete-Davila protected 3 people that Sanchez knows of – the person who picked him up and the two people in the white car. Aldrete-Davila also would not provide the name of the doctor at the Mexican clinic where he was treated. Sanchez does not know if doctors are required to report gunshot wounds in Mexico. Sanchez wanted to know about the clinic but neither Aldrete-Davila nor his sister would tell Sanchez where it was.

72-73 – Sanchez did not ask Aldrete-Davila “the name of his friends that were drug traffickers that were making threats to shoot Border Patrol in retaliation for this shooting.” Instead, they added this threat to an existing BOLO (Be On the Lookout) warning to the BP and federal law enforcement because another Mexican organization had made a threat. They also reported it to the Mexican authorities through the American consulate in Juarez.

73-75 – It would have been better if they could have provided the Mexican authorities with the names of the people who made the threats. Sanchez’s understanding was that Aldrete-Davila’s immunity agreement could have been canceled for his failure to give Sanchez the information about the people who made death threats. Sanchez relayed Aldrete-Davila’s non-cooperation to AUSA Brandy Gardes.

75-76 – A “lot of things” caused Sanchez to doubt Aldrete-Davila’s credibility but “basically everything [Aldrete-Davila] told us was substantiated through the investigation.” It concerned Sanchez that Aldrete-Davila had told him lies.

77 – Aldrete-Davila has returned to Mexico and Sanchez cannot compel him to come back. [The prosecutor objected to the question as misleading because “Ms. Stillinger agreed that he could go back to Mexico. She knows he was in custody.” Defense counsel restated the question.] Sanchez cannot make Aldrete-Davila come back to the US.

77-78 – Sanchez asked and Compean told Sanchez that he didn’t know who said, “Hit him. Hit him” at the scene. Ramos and other agents were present at the time.

Compean cross-examination (by Chris Antcliff):

78-80 – Sanchez’s first formal interview was with Juarez, and he interviewed him 3 times – 4 times including the first contact on March 17 when Sanchez took Juarez’s weapon and asked if he knew about a shooting and Juarez said no. The next day, Juarez called Sanchez telephonically and said “Mr. Sanchez, after sleeping on it, I recall hearing one or two shots” so Sanchez asked Juarez to come in. Sanchez did not document the first meeting with Juarez where he took his weapon.

80 – Sanchez was in and out during Juarez’s interview on March 18 and was not present for the entire interview. Things were moving fast right before Ramos’ and Compean’s arrests.

80-81 – Sanchez asked the agents conducting Juarez’s interview to ask Juarez if he would make a written statement and he agreed.

81-83 – There was no report for Juarez’s oral interview on March 18, only Juarez’s written statement. They moved Juarez out of the interview room to finish his statement so they could interview Arturo Vasquez, and Sanchez was in the room with Juarez while he wrote his statement. Sanchez told Juarez to write what he told the agents in his interview. They did not converse except regarding “some notes on a picture showing where he [Juarez] observed Compean.” Juarez drew on the picture where he thought Aldrete-Davila was running.

83-84 – Juarez told Sanchez that he arrived at the scene, went straight to the van, looked inside, saw the marijuana, and looked for a weapon. In his first statement, Juarez said he heard one or two shots and heard someone yell “Shots.” Juarez disregarded that and continued to look in the van. Juarez’s first statement did not say anything about Compean.

84-85 – Sanchez read Juarez’s statement and “almost immediately” did not believe it. The basis for his disbelief was not because it contradicted information provided by Vasquez but was based on Sanchez’s experience as a law enforcement agent. Vasquez was being interviewed as Juarez wrote his statement so they did not have Vasquez’s information yet.

85-87 – At his first interview on March 18, Juarez did not have a lawyer but he did have a proffer letter that immunized him from prosecution as long as he told the truth. At his second interview on April 25, Juarez had a lawyer and the proffer letter, and he told Sanchez information that was different than what he said on March 18. For instance, in the first statement, Juarez said he went straight to the van and didn’t see anyone else. In the second interview, Juarez did not go straight to the van. He saw “Compean and the driver of the vehicle about six to eight feet apart, somewhere near the ditch.” There were other inconsistencies like that.

87 – Juarez wrote a second statement and Juarez transcribed it because Juarez’s writing is not legible. Sanchez did not make a report of the oral statement because Juarez’s second oral and written statements were pretty much the same. However, Sanchez still didn’t believe Juarez.

87-88 – Sanchez reinterviewed Juarez on September 27. Juarez was threatened with indictment if he didn’t tell the truth, and Juarez provided information that was “wholesale different” from the first interview. The chase was the same but everything that Juarez said happened after he reached the ditch changed from his first 2 interviews.

88 – Sanchez heard Juarez’s testimony in court at this trial. He still doesn’t believe Juarez told the truth about the drainage ditch.

88-89 – Based on his interviews, Sanchez agree that the BP agents sometimes have problems expressing their thoughts. Sanchez added that they have differing educational levels and it’s not pleasant to be called into internal affairs – even for experienced agents.

89 – Juarez was one of those agents who had trouble expressing himself and telling Sanchez what happened.

89-90 – The information provided by Vasquez was different than Juarez’s information. Vasquez stated he heard shots when he got out of his vehicle that day. The only person Vasquez saw when he arrived was Juarez standing by the van.

90-91 – Vasquez also told Sanchez that Compean told Vasquez he fired shots that day. Sanchez thought Vasquez had not provided a full statement. A couple of months later, Sanchez got a second statement from Vasquez and Vasquez provided additional information that wasn’t in the first statement.

91-92 – Another agent interviewed the trainee, Rene Mendez, on March 18 when/after Juarez and Vasquez were interviewed. Mendez corroborated what Yrigoyen said about the “white car and the blue van.” Sanchez did not ask Mendez to corroborate Yrigoyen’s conversation with Compean because, initially, they did not know about the conversation and afterwards they learned that Mendez stayed on the levee and would not heard the conversation.

92-93 – The first time Sanchez went to the scene was March 15. [Sanchez initially said March 15 but thereafter he stated his first visit was March 16]. He went with an agent from internal audit. Sanchez went several times to look for casings and blood but did not find any. He took pictures and looked around. He had a metal detector but did not know where to look. Sanchez interviewed Aldrete-Davila “that same day” and returned on March 17 with many agents “to go on line and look” for evidence.

94 – On March 17, they also had “the Mexican investigators from the American consulate in Ciudad Juarez, and Mexican police, on the south side of the river assisting” but no one found anything.

94 – Sanchez had the sector evidence team go back to the scene in October to get measurements and prepare a report. Agent Blea [the sector evidence team commander who testified earlier in the trial] was on leave during this search so Sanchez did not talk to him. The BP arranged for the sector evidence team’s assistance.

94-95 – Sanchez has had “some training” in crime scene investigations. He has not had training in the use of a metal detector to look for shell casings.

95-96 – Compean was arrested around 11:45 PM on March 18. Then they brought Compean in, “read him his rights, had him sign a Miranda form. He waives his rights and agrees to cooperate with the investigation. And, at that time, we interview him.” Compean wrote a handwritten statement about the events of February 17. Sanchez thought there were 2 differences between Compean’s statement and Sanchez’s notes of his oral interview:

“A. I think on the oral interview he stated he did not recall if Arturo Vasquez picked up any casings or threw them away. In his written statement, he recalls Arturo Vasquez contacted him, and he threw away — picked up casings and threw them in the ditch.

Oral interview, Mr. Compean stated that Aldrete-Davila threw dirt in his eyes. Written statement, he stated, I got dirt in my eyes.
Q. I think in the oral interview you testified that he said may have thrown dirt in his eyes.
A. I think he said might have thrown dirt in his eyes.
Q. Okay. In the written he said?
A. I got dirt in my eyes.”

96-97 – Sanchez doesn’t recall any difference between Sanchez’s notes of Compean’s oral statement and Compean’s written statement regarding the position of Aldrete-Davila’s hands.

97 – Sanchez sat with Compean as he wrote his statement and kept track of what he thought was important:

“Q. Okay. You’re sitting there when he’s writing the written statement. Is that right?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And are you coaching him, or is he just writing it out?
A. I was just reminding him of things that — when he – that he wrote — that we talked about in the oral statement.
Q. Certainly, he’s putting what he thinks is important in the written statement, and that’s why you took notes. You’re keeping track of what you think is important. Is that right?
A. Correct, sir.”

97 – Sanchez did not videotape or audiotape Compean’s statement.

97-98 – Sanchez tapes Manny Fuente’s interview in another shooting incident but did not tape any agent in this investigation.

98 – Compean said he heard someone say, “Hit him” but no one else in the investigation heard that.

98-99 – Compean told Sanchez that he told Aldrete-Davila to stop in Spanish but he did not stop and he continued to come toward Compean. Sanchez understood Compean to say that he grabbed the barrel of the gun and started poking at the guy: “He grabbed it up by the slide and was pushing him back.” Compean demonstrated what he did to Sanchez. Sanchez agreed it was pure lunacy to give access to the trigger to the person you are trying to arrest. In his third statement, Juarez said he saw Compean with one hand on the stock and one hand was up near the slide.

99-100 – Aldrete-Davila told Sanchez that Compean tried to hit him in the head with the gun, a maneuver commonly called a butt stroke. Compean said he was not in fear for his life in the ditch but that changed as they rolled down the south side of the vega. Compean also said he was in fear for his life when Aldrete-Davila ran away and turned with something Compean thought was shiny in his hand.

100-102 – Sanchez was in the Marine Corp for 8 years and served in the Gulf War. He has had a gun pointed at him and he knows things are perceived differently in those circumstances. Sanchez never had a gun pointed at him as a law enforcement officer but, in combat, Sanchez’s experience was that everything happened in slow motion and can be perceived differently.

102 – Sanchez knows that Compean was in the Navy but Sanchez doesn’t know if he was in combat.

102-103 – Compean told Sanchez that he saw something shiny but he’s not sure Compean told him that he was in fear for his life. Compean shoots. Sanchez doesn’t know how many times Compean shot, he just has an idea.

103 – Compean told Sanchez that he “jumped on Aldrete-Davila, they rolled down the south side of the levee, so they were in the vega. Aldrete-Davila breaks free, starts running, sees something shiny, thinks it’s a gun, not certain, and he starts shooting.” Sanchez did not ask Compean what position he was in when he shot.

103-104 – Aldrete-Davila told Sanchez that he never looked back until after he was shot:

“That’s all we have, is that Aldrete-Davila stated he was running. Right before he hits the riverbank, he gets shot in the buttocks, he goes down. He goes — he goes back, reaches back, looks at the blood, looks back to the agents, thinking that they’re going to come up and arrest him –
Q. Okay.
A. — and —
Q. You heard his testimony, Aldrete-Davila’s testimony, that while he was in the ditch he looked back and saw several agents pointing their handguns at him, did you not?
A. He did state that, yes, sir.”

104-105 – The only agents who drew a weapon on February 17 were Compean and Ramos.

105 – Compean told Sanchez that the shots he fired were in the vega. Afterward, Compean walked back and picked up casings.

105 – Sanchez’s first interview about this incident was about 30 days after it happened. Most of the agents testified it was an unremarkable day. Sanchez agreed that some people make mistakes in recollection the more time that passes. Sanchez also agree that people make mistakes and that while “law enforcement agents go through training repeatedly to avoid mistakes. But mistakes are still made.”

106-107 – Sanchez believes that Aldrete-Davila was at the midpoint of the vega when the shooting happened/started. The vegetation on the vega was lower than knee-level when Sanchez was there. There aren’t any trees. Two people on the vega should easily be able to see each other and on a clear day you can see deep into Mexico (although this was an overcast day).

107-108 – Law enforcement officers are trained that if they are going to shoot, they should shoot to kill or to stop the threat.

108 – [Bench conference regarding scheduling and completing the government’s case before lunch.]

Government redirect examination (by Debra Kanof):

109 – The other agencies Sanchez has been with did not routinely tape interviews.

109-110 – Sanchez carries a service revolver and qualifies quarterly on the range with his weapon. He knows that shell casings are ejected back and to the right. He knows that because they have to police [pick up] the casings after they shoot. You learn not to stand to the right rear of someone who is shooting because the shell casings are hot and can hit your shirt. Shell casings can go 10-15 feet depending on wind and “atmospheric.”

110 – Compean told Sanchez that all his shots were on the vega but Compean also told Sanchez that he returned to the top of the levee to pick up the casings.

110-111 – [After refreshing his recollection regarding the date:] Sanchez stated his last interview with Vasquez was May 11. Sanchez did not formally interview Vasquez after that date although he was present when “we” talked to Vasquez.

111-112 – Aldrete-Davila gave Sanchez a note from a doctor dated in February saying that his mother had hypertension.

112 – Sanchez did not reinterview Rene Sanchez because he did not believe he needed to after he talked to Aldrete-Davila. [The Court overruled an objection to Sanchez testifying regarding the importance of Rene Sanchez to the investigation.]

113 – Sanchez did not believe that Juarez’s testimony at trial was false but he believes Juarez knows more he didn’t say, and that’s why Sanchez said he didn’t believe Juarez. Specifically, Juarez slipped in the drainage ditch and Sanchez doesn’t believe Juarez didn’t see Ramos in the drainage ditch.

113-114 – Because of the many interviews he took, Sanchez isn’t sure if Compean aimed his gun at Aldrete-Davila or if it was at port arms, but he thinks Aldrete-Davila said the first position of Compean’s gun he saw was that it was aimed at him. Juarez said the same thing in his third statement. Aldrete-Davila told Sanchez that Compean took the gun off his shoulder and took a swing at him. Sanchez has no knowledge that Juarez ever talked to Aldrete-Davila about what happened.

Ramos recross-examination (by Mary Stillinger):

114 – Sanchez doesn’t think Juarez’s testimony was a lie, only that he didn’t say all he knew, especially that he never saw Ramos in the drainage ditch.

115 – There was nothing wrong with Ramos going into the ditch. Sanchez would have “been across that ditch in a heartbeat” if he’d seen a fellow agent having a hard time. *** Officer safety, [crossing the ditch] was the correct thing [for Ramos] to do.” Thus, Sanchez can’t think of any reason Juarez would have to lie about not seeing Ramos and Juarez was not protecting Ramos if he withheld that information. Sanchez has his own ideas, based on his experience, about what makes sense.

116 – [Defense counsel attempted to clarify that the Manny Fuentes’ shooting had nothing to do with Ramos. The Court sustained a prosecution objection.] Ramos did not discharge his weapon in the Manny Fuentes’ incident.

117 – Sanchez doesn’t know if Aldrete-Davila ever told the agents that he was right-handed. He doesn’t believe he did and that information was not available when they were evaluating whether Aldrete-Davila had a gun in his hand.

[NOTE from DRJ: pp. 57-58 – Aldrete-Davila called Sanchez after reading the papers about a weapon and volunteered that he did not have a gun or anything shiny in his hand that day, and that he is right-handed.]

117-118 – Sanchez did not feel the need to reinterview Rene Sanchez but he didn’t know until the trial that Rene Sanchez was helping Aldrete-Davila with his lawsuit.

Compean recross-examination (by Chris Antcliff):

118-119 – Sanchez carries a Glock .40 caliber, not a Beretta. He’s carried other weapons and “they usually kick back and to the right.” He fired a 9-millimeter Beretta in the Marine Corp and his recollection is it kicks back and to the right. However, Sanchez did not test the guns in this case.

119 – At the range, it’s the agent’s responsibility to pick up his brass [casings].

119 – Jacquez told Sanchez that Compean told him he shot at Aldrete-Davila. Jacquez did not say that Compean told him he shot Aldrete-Davila with a bullet.

120 – Sanchez and his agency don’t typically tape interviews. Sanchez has done it twice. They have the capability and have done it in the past.

Government redirect examination (by Debra Kanof):

120-122 – [The Court sustained a defense objection to the prosecution’s question asking what Juarez told Sanchez in his third statement regarding why he didn’t tell everything he knew before:]

“MS. STILLINGER: Object, Your Honor, to hearsay. Agent Juarez has already testified, and they could have asked these questions then.
MS. KANOF: She asked — Ms. Stillinger opened the door, Your Honor. She asked the question. He just didn’t get to finish.
MS. STILLINGER: May we approach the bench, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes, you may.
(Bench conference:)
MS. STILLINGER: Your Honor, I know what she’s going for, but it has nothing to do with my questions. My questions were, there’s no reason that Agent Juarez would hide this because — that’s the point I was making. He has no motive to hide this. What she wants to get into is what Agent Juarez said, insofar as he withheld information at the beginning – not withholding at trial, but at the beginning — it was because he thought Nacho was a mean guy.
MS. KANOF: He said he was afraid of him.
MS. STILLINGER: If you could keep your voice down, please.
THE COURT: All right. I’ll sustain the objection.”

122 – [Witness excused.]

122 – [Government rests.]

122 – [Court in recess for lunch.]

63 Responses to “DRJ Pores Through the Border Patrol Trial Transcripts – Recalled Witness: Christopher Sanchez (Volume XII)”

  1. “It appears Rene Sanchez was indicted, possibly on charges related to the subject of the Blanchette memo. Here’s a link to Volume XII of the transcript. Please correct me if I’ve misread this.”

    That’s how I read it too!!???

    I wonder if this is a similar situation as in the Sipe case where the agents who got the “victim” off after a second smuggling endeavor was connected with and a relative of the “victim’s” cartel boss? The appeallate court in Sipe thought enough about that situation to note it in a footnote.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (9f83e6)

  2. It would be easy to find out if anyone’s got a PACER account.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  3. That is how it reads at that point but as you read further into it, it seems more likely that “this guy was indicted” refers to Blanchette.

    The transcript reads so ambiguously on this matter that it could even be referring to C.Sanchez as the indicted one. It’s hard for me to believe that they could have had this discussion that turned out so perfectly ambiguous and I wonder if the transcript was intentionally obscured.

    It’s also highly coincidental that the discussion reads so ambiguously considering that had the bench conference clarified this matter, it would have likely been omitted from the transcript because the testimony that would clear up this matter was indeed omitted. That is Sanchez and Blanchette’s testimony in Vol 14.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  4. Semi-off topic but … whethere Rene Sanchez was indicted or not, he should definitely not be a border patrol agent now that we know he has a relationship with a known drug smuggler. I’ve had a problem with this aspect from the beginning of the story, and so should everyone else. The issue is not how it pertains to the guilt or innocence of Ramos and Compean, but the mere fact that one of our border patrol agents seems to be far too cozy with someone that is part of a cartel that transports illegal drugs across our southern border.

    thirteen28 (5ad670)

  5. Thirteen28,

    I don’t know about how common it is to have ties to drug smugglers but I have a feeling it’s not uncommon to retain close ties to friends and family in Mexico. First, Border Patrol agents on the southern border need to speak Spanish and that makes immigrants and their children a good source of bilingual candidates.

    In addition, it’s common for Mexican immigrants in West Texas to retain close ties with friends and family in Mexico. I know many who regularly visit Mexico 3-4 times a year even though they have no or distant family in Mexico and they haven’t lived there for 30-40 years. I think this is partly due to the Hispanic culture where what is distant relations to me (2nd and 3rd cousins) is family to them. I’ve seen people file bankruptcy because they gratuitously paid debts owed by aunts and uncles or incurred substantial debts to buy cars for cousins who couldn’t get credit, and then were unable to make the payments when the extended family members defaulted.

    Mexico may be another country to us but to many people living on the border, it’s more like home to them than the US will ever be. In other words, Houston, we have an assimilation problem.

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  6. By the way, while we’re off-topic, drugs and weapons go together well on the southern border. (Link failed so here’s the longer, manual version:

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  7. DRJ – I’m not disputing the point you’ve made, but it more than appears that Rene Sanchez went out of his way to help someone who he knew was a drug smuggler. OAD was not just a mere friend or even mere acquaintance, he was a smuggler. Having a member of a law enforcement agency – one whose mission it is to stop guys like OAD – go so out of his way to help a known drug smuggler smacks of a conflict of interest and should raise questions about Sanchez in any discerning mind. I can’t imagine any law enforcement agency wanting their officers to maintain a friendship at any level with a member of a drug cartel.

    thirteen28 (5ad670)

  8. Tracy,

    I checked the PACER account about Rene Sanchez about a month ago because I heard something about him being charged (or someone with his name). I saw some some cases with that name on them, but couldn’t tell if it was him.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (d7ff57)

  9. If someone was indicted, shouldn’t there have been a trial by now? It would have been a year and a half ago which is also about how long ago the second load incident happened, yet neither of these incidents has come to trial and both are being kept hidden from public view.

    Isn’t there something about a “speedy trial” in the Constitution? If no one was indicted for the second load incident, don’t they owe us citizens an explanation as to why and how that can possibly be?

    J Curtis (d21251)

  10. I agree, J Curtis. I think if the indictment comment applied to either R. Sanchez or Blanchette, we’d have heard about legal proceedings by now.

    JerriLynn – I don’t subscribe to PACER, but it seems like maybe the Rene Sanchez’ could be narrowed down by “US v.” and within the West Texas district.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  11. Christopher Sanchez?

    Is he related to Matt “Major Rod” Sanchez?

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  12. I agree, J Curtis. I think if the indictment comment applied to either R. Sanchez or Blanchette, we’d have heard about legal proceedings by now.

    Comment by Tracy

    Which means that the government isn’t investigating these things and they are clearly keeping both incidents from us to cover their own sorry asses and protect their drug smuggling buddies.

    There is no way that either of these incidents are immune from FOIA unless they want to claim that it’s a national security issue.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  13. Thirteen28,

    I agree with you. I’ve been concerned about Rene Sanchez since I first read his testimony, and I’ve had other conversations here about my concerns. It’s like working for Eliot Ness while maintaining your friendship with mobsters. It may be theoretically possible but practically the conflicting loyalties seem like a recipe for problems.

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  14. Isn’t it possible the indictment was dismissed, pending, or sealed and that’s why we don’t know the details?

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  15. An indictment can be filed under seal pending the arrest of the defendant. But there would be no reason to do that here. And once the person is found and arrested, the indictment is unsealed. If either of these guys were indicted – it would be public record. I don’t know what the judge is talking about when she says “indicted” but it’s not Blanchette or R. Sanchez.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  16. Isn’t it possible the indictment was dismissed, pending, or sealed and that’s why we don’t know the details?

    Comment by DRJ

    If it was dismissed, why are they hiding the information? The transcripts were released a couple of weeks ago and they decided in Feb. 2007 not to include the Blanchett and Sanchez testimony from vol. 14 that took place a year ago, which was about an incident that happened a year and a half ago.

    As for “pending”, it’s been a year and a half and if there is meant to be any indictments following the investigation then it has run afoul of the speedy trial clause/act. But there is reason to believe that the prosecution is protecting the defendants in at least one of these incidents, possibly both. They have a conflict of interest that prevents them from prosecuting.

    As for “sealed”, that is where we are at and the question is — why?

    The conflict of interest becomes insanity when the government calls Ramos and Compean to the witness stand to testify against Davila during his civil trial. It would be impossible for them not to call these witnesses if they are doing their job of defending my money from going to this Davila criminal.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  17. And… on reflection, I have what I think is valid speculation as to why part of the TX is sealed. I think that two things are discussed there: the “October load” and R. Sanchez.

    I think the judge sealed the TX regarding the in depth discussion of/testimony regarding the October load because – having decided that it lacked probative value and would not be admitted into evidence – it was also an ongoing investigation.

    I also think that the judge sealed the TX talking about an investigation into R. Sanchez based on the Blanchette memo. In California – codes and case law protect the cops’ privacy rights in their employment records, unless there is something relevant to the case which will get turned over to the defense. I’m sure there is a parallel federal law. In this case, I’d guess that investigation into the Blanchette memo regarding R. Sanchez resulted in it being unfounded or the investigation was ongoing [unlikely since he didn’t testify that he was on administrative leave or anything like that] and so the record was sealed.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  18. If it was dismissed, why are they hiding the information?

    If there were an indictment against either of these guys – it would be public record. Even if it were dismissed.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  19. Isn’t it possible the indictment was dismissed, pending, or sealed and that’s why we don’t know the details?

    Sorry. I didn’t see this until I answered J Curtis.

    1.) If it were dismissed it would still be public record.

    2.) And indictment that is “pending” is waiting for plea or trial and would be public record.

    3.) I believe that an indictment is only sealed for as long as it takes to arrest the defendant and that sealing only happens in high risk cases where, e.g., there is risk of flight if the person knows they’ve been indicted. Once they’re arrested, the indictment is public record.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  20. Tracy,

    Aren’t you assuming that whatever prosecution this refers to is in the US? What if it’s in Mexico?

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  21. Or the FISA court?

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  22. DRJ – You’re losing me. That’s a hell of a stretch.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  23. Federal Rule of Court 6(e)(4) is the only thing that allows sealing of indictments, and as I said above, the sealing is finite:

    (4) Sealed Indictment.

    The magistrate judge to whom an indictment is returned may direct that the indictment be kept secret until the defendant is in custody or has been released pending trial. The clerk must then seal the indictment, and no person may disclose the indictment’s existence except as necessary to issue or execute a warrant or summons.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  24. I think the judge sealed the TX regarding the in depth discussion of/testimony regarding the October load because – having decided that it lacked probative value and would not be admitted into evidence – it was also an ongoing investigation.

    Comment by Tracy

    It would be the all time coincidence that we don’t know what this Blanchett thing is all about after a lengthy bench conference about it and pages omitted because of something that is really unrelated to it. These omissions came in Feb. 2007, not Feb. 2006.

    The second load had nothing to do with this Blanchett matter because the omitted Blanchett matter happened a month before the second load incident.

    Even if we are being kept in the dark about this unintentionally due to some crazy coincidence, we could then clear it all up by asking any of these government players to explain the matter.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  25. Tracy,

    At this point it’s almost like a law school test, not real life.

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  26. Ha! I like that DRJ. That might explain some of the fascination I have for this case. 🙂

    J Curtis – I meant the two to be taken separately – as they surely would have been in a trial. I think it’s very possible that they had a hearing regarding admissibility of the “October load” evidence before the defense case in chief.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  27. Not to be an ingrate here – but this – 🙂 – is a really creepy smiley. I would have meant something more sincere and friendly looking, DRJ. Not that sinister, mocking thing. Cross my heart.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  28. 26

    Well, okay, let’s take them separately.

    Can you think of any reason why the Blanchett matter should not be public record at this point in time, a year and half since its occurrence?

    Can you think of any reason why the second load matter should not be public record at this point in time, almost a year and a half since its occurrence?

    J Curtis (d21251)

  29. Tracy,

    I think it’s the eyebrows. It’s kind of a Johnny Depp look. Fortunately I’m not (yet) so addicted to the internet that I’d get offended by something that happens online, especially with so many good basketball games on TV to distract me.

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  30. I believe the judge is referring to the indictment of Ramos and Compean. She is saying they had already been indicted by July 2005 (the date of the memo) and that Christopher Sanchez had essentially completed his investigation so there was no way the memo could have affected his investigation. The defense argued that there were some further interviews and superceding indictments (presumedly of Ramos and Compean) after Christopher Sanchez received the memo but to no avail.

    Apparently there was a later hearing (which has been omitted from the transcript)before the judge (but not the jury) in which the defense questioned Christopher Sanchez and Blanchette about the memo but was unable to convince the judge that there was anything that the jury should hear.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  31. Apparently there was a later hearing (which has been omitted from the transcript)before the judge (but not the jury) in which the defense questioned Christopher Sanchez and Blanchette about the memo but was unable to convince the judge that there was anything that the jury should hear.

    Comment by James B. Shearer

    But the question is: What could have possibly taken place during that hearing that is so necessary to prevent from reaching our ears ( or eyes )?

    Tony Snow says a couple of days before the transcripts were released:

    “You know, this is a time when cooler heads ought to prevail and facts ought to be presented,” Snow replied. “Therefore, we’re perfectly happy with anything that will reveal the facts of this case. I think there are efforts ongoing and may yield fruit quite soon to get the full transcripts of the trial of agents Campion and Ramos out before the public, every syllable.

    …apparently not “every” syllable.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  32. James B. Shearer,

    You may be right that the bench conference was discussing the indictments in this case. I think it was confusing because the participants used frequent pronouns [he, his] and sometimes referenced a singular “indictment” rather than plural “indictments” which occurred in this case. Nevertheless, the discussion may well have focused on what Christopher Sanchez knew and whether he knew it before or after the indictments were filed in this case.

    DRJ (0c4ef8)

  33. Can you think of any reason why the Blanchett matter should not be public record at this point in time, a year and half since its occurrence?

    Can you think of any reason why the second load matter should not be public record at this point in time, almost a year and a half since its occurrence?

    I thought I addressed this above, but there’s a good chance that I wasn’t being clear.

    First, to be very clear – the reason I keep stressing the fact that indictments are public record is because I’m saying that eliminates R. Sanchez and Blanchette from the people the judge is talking about in the bench conference.

    Second, I think any discussion of the Blanchette memo would be sealed if the memo were determined to be unfounded, unsubstantiated or undetermined [and the latter, as I said above, is unlikely]. When I said so before, I based that on experience with similar proceedings in state court where state codes and case law are applicable. I guessed that there were parallel federal laws. There are. Several. I stopped looking when I found three examples – 5 U.S.C. § 552; Fitzgibbon v. CIA (1990) 911 F.2d 755, 767; 28 C.F.R. Part 16 – but I’m sure there are more that are specific to this situation. I DO believe that if the Blanchette memo was substantiated, we WOULD have heard about that at the trial.

    Third, the “October load” evidence was an ongoing investigation at the time of trial – a valid reason to have any discussion of that sealed. It is very possible for investigations to continue to be in progress for more than a year and a half. For my part, I wish that if the investigation is closed, we could get all the information – just because it’s fuel for speculation. I’m sure the judge’s decision here – to exclude that evidence – will be reviewed on appeal and we may hear more then. It’s too bad we don’t have copies of any in limine motions regarding the incident, because I think they’d be informative now.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  34. I DO believe that if the Blanchette memo was substantiated, we WOULD have heard about that at the trial.

    It seems to me that if it’s a matter of protecting the innocent, then the matter should be made public to clear R.Sanchez’s name because there is plenty that is in the public record which would cause one to be suspicious of him.

    In fact, the accusation contained in the memo is public record and it doesn’t make sense that the discrediting of the accusation is hidden, if it succeeded in clearing Sanchez.

    As for the October load, it’s just too convenient that the case would still be an investigation in progress a year and a half after the incident. We have this Cipriano guy with the dope at his house and he’s not arrested. We know who brought the dope to the house and he’s not arrested either. There is nothing complicated about this routine drug bust that would require an unprecedented 17 month investigation.

    If Cipriano had been arrested, as anyone else with a million dollars worth of dope would have been, then this incident would have been made public by now or else they run afoul of the speedy trial act. Since they conveniently failed to arrest the guy with the million dollar dope load, they think they can hide this incident from the public forever.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  35. I gotta go do some stuff – but you’re making a lot of assumptions J Curtis. But more that telling you that – I wanted to let you know that your comment on the Anna Nichole thread was HILARIOUS. I nearly cracked a rib, I was laughing so hard.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  36. I found something interesting, at least to me. All the information I had led me to believe that Davila was a legal Texan at the time of the incident even though the prosecution was arguing that he was a Mexican National just trying to return to his country.

    I was just over at Johnny Sutton’s web page looking for past statements regarding Ramos-Compean and I found this one here. On page one of the pdf file is this:

    Aldrete-Davila, who was at one time a legal resident alien of the United States and speaks some English

    Why would have Davila had his legal resident status revoked? I think there are only two possibilities: 1. He had it revoked for prior criminal activity 2. It was revoked after the incident.

    I think it was revoked after the incident which would have, on the date of the incident, made Davila a Texan trying to escape from the US in the commission of mulitple felonies.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  37. I think there are only two possibilities…

    There are more than two possibilites. For instance, anytime you leave the US for more than a year without getting a re-entry permit, you lose your status. And, failure to pay income taxes will cost you your “green card”. My guess is that he went to Mexico and stayed longer than he should have so he lost his status.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  38. I’ve been through all the Rene Sanchez cases in the Western District on Pacer. There is only one for the year 2005, filed in May. It’s a drug charge and it doesn’t seem to be the same Rene Sanchez.

    Maybe we should try Arizona.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (9f83e6)

  39. 7 13

    This is unrealistic. Law enforcement is heavily dependent on information provided by informers. It is common for law enforcement officers to be on civil terms with informers or potential informers. Sometimes this leads to problems but the use of informers is just too valuable to eliminate. For example in this case because Rene Sanchez had a distant connection with OAD the government learned about a serious crime which would otherwise have gone unreported (much less prosecuted).

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  40. 37

    Maybe there are other possibilities, we just need to ask Sutton to give us the answer.

    I have several questions for Sutton that need to be answered and we could probably put a nice list together here.

    Since this website is a media outlet and has examined the trial more extensively than any other media outlet, DRJ or Patterico should get a hold of Sutton’s office, they have this inquiry info:

    If you have a press related inquiry you may contact Shana Jones, Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney at 210-384-7452 or Daryl Fields, Public Affairs Officer at 210-384-7440.

    Here are a few questions that need to be asked:

    When and why did Davila lose his legal resident status in the US?

    Is Mexico obligated to deport legal US residents who escape from the US to avoid prosecution?

    How is that October load investigation coming along? Is this the longest investigation for a routine drug bust that you have ever been involved with?

    Why hasn’t anyone been indicted for that October incident? Do the citizens of the US deserve justice for this?

    How did the van get to the location it was at before Davila allegedly walked over to it and drove it to Fabens? Was the van in Mexico earlier that day and did it cross at a border crossing? Were the cameras checked at the border crossings to see who drove the van into the US?

    Who will be defending my money from the Davila civil suit? Will it be you or anyone else working for Alberto Gonzalez and President Bush?

    Why was the Blanchett testimony omitted? Was there an indictment involved and when will the matter be brought to trial?

    Are you aware of any aliases that Davila has used and can you stipulate his age?

    Those are questions that they should have no problem answering.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  41. Actually, J Curtis, last week I contacted one of the people you mentioned with a question I have about this case. I’m still waiting for an answer.

    DRJ (863f9f)

  42. 39 – I would agree with your post if there was any indication that OAD was an informer. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support that.

    I realize that law enforcement at times has to build relationships with shady characters in order to obtain evidence to prosecute certain crimes (e.g., obtaining evidence to prosecute mobsters under RICO). This is not such a case.

    thirteen28 (1da714)

  43. J Curtis

    Prior evidence, even if he was a multiple murder suspect doesn’t warrent what he diod and probably would have been inadmissable in court

    Due to the fact that he tried to surrender, they tried to beat him, then they tried to kill him

    You guys can go after Sutton an AD all you want it doesn’t matter

    the Sipes case was he hit a man with a flashlight the two witnessess were all illegal aliens who lied about their relationship to each other and a subsequent arrest of one of the witnessess who misused his immunity card.

    none of this applies to AD he has not been tied to any previous drug connections and it doesn’t really matter

    Sipes will not get his job back and probably will be tried on assault charges

    Let the screaming begin

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)

  44. J Curtis,

    If I had to vote right now, I don’t think I would agree that Aldrete-Davila was ever an American citizen or even that he was a legal resident at the time of this shooting. However, I admit I don’t know the answer to that for a fact. Nevertheless, please do me a big favor and avoid calling him a Texan. That really grates on me. Would you be willing to use “legal resident alien” or “American citizen” instead?

    DRJ (863f9f)

  45. It’s too bad we don’t have copies of any in limine motions regarding the incident, because I think they’d be informative now.

    Comment by Tracy

    After re-reading vol 3, I don’t think the Blanchett thing really was covered by the limine motions. As best as I could tell, those two motions were:

    1. Can’t say anything about the dangerousness of the border area.

    2. Can’t say anything about Davila that isn’t directly related to the shooting. Kanof even seemed to mention citizen status when she was arguing for this motion, that’s how broad it was.

    The idea is that these topics aren’t off limits but they can’t be referred to unless a door is opened that necessitates going into it. I guess a witness would have to open the door.

    This explains all of the bench conferences where the defense was arguing to go into these matters claiming doors were opened and the government would never give them an inch and the judge seemingly always sided with the government.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  46. “Sipes will not get his job back and probably will be tried on assault charges.”

    How? I thought he was acquitted in his second trial.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (9f83e6)

  47. I’ve been through all the Rene Sanchez cases in the Western District on Pacer.

    Thanks, JerriLynn. Above and beyond the call of duty.

    After re-reading vol 3, I don’t think the Blanchett thing really was covered by the limine motions.

    That makes sense, JCurtis. That would explain why we didn’t hear more until the beginning of defense case.

    When and why did Davila lose his legal resident status in the US?

    Crimes of moral turpitude will result in losing your green card. In my neck of the woods, crimes of moral turpitude are, coincidentally, admissible to impeach a witness – i.e., juries are allowed to assume that people who commit those kinds of crimes might also be more prone to lie. Since I think the feds are much the same, if Aldrete lost his LPR status because of criminal activity – we would likely have heard of that crime as impeachment at trial. I think it’s more likely that he moved back to Mexico with his family, they stayed longer than a year, and he lost his permanant resident status.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  48. There were 8 matters covered by the pretrial motions in limine discussed in Volume 3 of the transcript and there may have been other motions considered earlier. I didn’t see anything in the transcript that suggests the Blanchette memo was included in the motions in limine so I agree with J Curtis that it wasn’t the subject of a limine order. I think it was probably a trial issue.

    The first mention I found for Nolan Blanchette was in voir dire (Volume 6 p 86), when Mary Stillinger named Blanchette as a possible witness. That probably explains why the government preemptively tendered the Blanchette memo to the Court along with notice that the government would object to testimony on that subject (Volume 10 pp 7-10). In Christopher Sanchez’s testimony (on recall), the Court ultimately addressed the Blanchette memo and ruled that the subject was not admissible but the defense could preserve the testimony in a bill of exception. (Volume 12 pp 65-71).

    DRJ (863f9f)

  49. Nevertheless, please do me a big favor and avoid calling him a Texan. That really grates on me. Would you be willing to use “legal resident alien” or “American citizen” instead?

    Comment by DRJ

    I use the word “Texan” because that word brings the most lucidity to my point. He had Texas plates and the assumption at the time of the incident should have been that he was a Texan.

    There was no reason to suppose that the van driver was any less Texan than Johnny Sutton himself but it is the government’s wild assertion that the appropriate thing for the border agents to do was let the assumed Texan escape from the US to another country.

    I’ll try not to wear out the word.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  50. Who will be defending my money from the Davila civil suit?

    I hate to freak you out, JCurtis, but I think they’re probably just talkin’ settlement numbers now. The suit probably contains assault and civil rights claims. It requires proof by a perponderance. Those claims have now been proven beyond a reasonable doubt in another court. It’s res judicata. Done deal.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  51. OAD ain’t no Texan. Them’s fightin’ words.

    Of course, I also consider George W. Bush and his family to be Yankee carpetbaggers. There were a lot of them in Midland when I was growing up there. They looked down on the rest of us.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (9f83e6)

  52. I agree with Tracy that the question now is damages. Typically, a settlement would pay all past medical and either fully fund (through some sort of structured settlement or trust) or leave open future medical for X number of years. In this case, the US will probably try to convince Aldrete-Davila to come to US military facilities for medical treatment (to be provided at no cost), with an agreed allowance for routine medical care in Mexico.

    The real issue will be loss of income and pain and suffering. Aldrete-Davila’s testimony in the Ramos/Compean case about his dismal economic situation doesn’t help his claim for lost income, but he can claim his employability is negatively affected by his medical condition and is entitled to funds to compensate him for this fact.

    The big money issue is pain and suffering, and that’s probably what everyone will haggle over. I suspect the US Attorney’s office does not want to try this case and, since its “only” taxpayer money, they may recommend a substantial settlement. I don’t know what authority Johnny Sutton has to settle cases like this but presumably AG AG or someone at the DOJ will have to approve it if it’s large enough.

    DRJ (863f9f)

  53. I suspect the US Attorney’s office does not want to try this case…

    What’s left to try? The two main claims – assault and civil rights – are decided. It’s over.

    I don’t know about walls between the civil and criminal divisions at the US Attorney’s office, but it is weird that they could be on one side of the case in one division and on another in the other division.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  54. Jerri

    He’s being tried again they are appealing his acquital and trying him on lying to superiors and obstruction of justice

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)

  55. What’s left to try? The two main claims – assault and civil rights – are decided. It’s over.

    Comment by Tracy

    Someone will have to try this case on the correct grounds that the first trial was a sham. It has to be tried by attorneys who are representing the taxpayers, the US citizens. The Bush DOJ can’t possibly do it.

    Even if Ramos and Compean had been found innocent, the same conflict of interest would be there. The government’s contention was that the smuggler who invaded the US with 750 pounds of poison had his civil rights trampled on. How would the government defend my money against their own contentions?

    How will Davila be able to spend my money when he will be in prison for 40 years following his conviction for smuggling 750 pounds of dope into the country in October of 1995?

    J Curtis (d21251)

  56. 2005 that is. whoops.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  57. Tracy,

    Unfortunately, I can’t find it in the transcript but I recall Debra Kanof discussing Aldrete-Davila’s civil lawsuit and speculating that he would have a hard time collecting from an American/El Paso jury. Thus, I don’t think it’s a given that they would settle this case or that they would settle on all issues. They could always stipulate as to some issues and try the rest.

    DRJ (863f9f)

  58. In the case of a criminal conviction based on a jury verdict of guilty, issues which were essential to the verdict must be regarded as having been determined by the judgment. Emich Motors Corp. v. General Motors Corp. (1951) 340 U.S. 558, 569. The doctrine of res judicata is applicable to a suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Allen v. McCurry (1980) 449 U.S. 90.

    Assuming that the elements are substantially the same [and I think they are], with regard to any civil claim for assault or civil rights violation – I’d say that the case only comes down to damages at this point.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  59. The government has the same conflict of interest in negotiating a settlement as they do in defending our money against their own contentions at a civil trial.

    They would settle too high to avoid the dreaded prospect that they would need to discredit their own criminal case against the agents.

    They would want to avoid exposing the government misconduct in the first trial by avoiding the civil trial.

    Davila knows that the US government is compromised in this regard and can use that in his favor during the settlement negotiations.

    Davila could also come out and say: “I had a gun that I dumped in the river but the US government told me to say that I never had a gun”. Even if untrue, Davila would bring down the Bush administration by making the claim.

    They can’t negotiate the settlement from this extremely weak and compromised position.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  60. Res judicata is more than just compromised.

    Tracy (63e43e)

  61. 42

    How are you going to prosecute this case without OAD’s cooperation?

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  62. #


    How are you going to prosecute this case without OAD’s cooperation?

    Comment by James B. Shearer — 3/11/2007 @ 11:34 am

    I really don’t know, but that’s not at all the point I was making. My point was that I am not comfortable with the apparent close relationship between a border patrol agent and known member of a drug cartel. You raised the issue about informers and law enforcement relationships therewith, but there is no evidence at all that the relationship between OAD and Rene Sanchez was predicated on such a thing.

    If Rene Sanchez had been assigned some undercover role and OAD had been contacted and secured as an informer to go after the cartel, it would be a totally different situation, but that’s not what we are dealing with here. It looks more like a friendship maintained, and unless there are valid law enforcement reasons for doing so, I think Rene Sanchez should have terminated any relationship with OAD the instant he was hired as a border patrol agent.

    Please note, just in case there is any confusion, that I don’t believe this has any bearing whatsoever on the guilt or innocence of Ramos and Compean, it’s just a side issue that I have a problem with.

    thirteen28 (1da714)

  63. 62

    In what sense was OAD a “known member of a drug cartel” prior to the shooting? Was there a list of cartel members with his name on it?

    In what sense did Rene Sanchez and OAD have a close relationship? As I recall the testimony Sanchez and OAD occasionally encountered each other on social occasions.

    What specifically should Rene Sanchez have done differently?

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

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