U.S. jury deliberates immigrant smuggler case
Monday, March 21, 2005Houston jury resumes deliberations today in a federal smuggling case where 19 illegal immigrants died from heat and lack of oxygen. The defendant, Tyrone Williams, 34, could face the death penalty for his alleged involvement in harboring and transporting illegal immigrants across the US-Mexican border.A
He was reportedly paid $7,500 to bring the immigrants to Houston in a tractor trailer truck.
Williams, a Jamaican citizen, was a member of a smuggling ring. He alone faces capital punishment charges, while 14 other ring members were charged with less serious offenses for their involvement in the case. Williams allegedly made a four-hour trip across the border and then parked at a truck stop in Victoria, about 100 miles from Houston. He left the truck while 75 persons suffered in the cargo area of the trailer during sweltering heat.
The prosecution claims he abandoned the trailer while ignoring screams for help and banging on the walls from those inside the trailer.
His defense attorneys argue Williams was unable to hear anything from the trailer, and they further say greed by other ring members was the cause of the deaths since the trailer was so overcrowded. Williams should not be singled out, his attorneys maintained, just because he was the driver of the truck.
"He didn't care," said federal prosecutor Daniel Rodriguez during closing arguments. "To him, these weren't people, they were merchandise."
The jury asked U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore three questions before the trial was adjourned for the weekend.
- Dale Lezon. "Immigrant smuggling jury unable to reach a verdict" — , March 21, 2005
- "Jury Begins Deliberation in Immigrant Death Case" — , March 18, 2005