The man charged in the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday.
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tucson to first-degree murder in connection with Terry’s death in December 2010.
“You, Mr. Osorio-Arellanes, illegally entered the United States with the specific intent of committing armed robbery,” District Judge David C. Bury said at the sentencing.
Bury upbraided Osorio-Arellanes for his criminal actions that led to a shootout with federal agents in the Santa Cruz County wilderness, casting doubt on claims the defendant didn’t know he and the other men had encountered Border Patrol agents.
Josephine Terry, Brian Terry’s mother, said her son’s death had left an “emptiness inside” her.
“Your honor, I ask you to consider at sentencing what you would give if this was your son’s life that was taken,” Josephine Terry said.
Brian Terry’s sister, Kelly Terry-Willis, said she felt no pity for the defendant.
“Your name will always be remembered as an evil man,” Terry-Willis said.
In December 2010, Osorio-Arellanes and several other men had illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico intending to track down and rob illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.
When they encountered Terry and other Border Patrol agents, a gunfight ensued, leaving Terry dead and Osorio-Arellanes wounded. He was arrested at the scene, while the other men fled to Mexico.
The case immediately drew attention, showing the danger that Border Patrol agents face.
Brian Terry’s death further gained notoriety when it was revealed that at least two of the guns Osorio-Arellanes and the other men used in the crime had been allowed to cross the border into Mexico as part of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Fast and Furious” program.
The program was intended to allow straw purchasers to buy guns in Arizona gun stores and spirit them to Mexico, presumably to the country’s drug-smuggling organizations. The rationale behind the program was that it would lead authorities to high-ranking figures in the Mexican cartels.
Osorio-Arellanes’ attorney, Clay Hernandez, said his client was remorseful for his actions even if he didn’t pull the trigger of the gun that killed Brian Terry.
“While he’s guilty of the charge, he is not in any way responsible for actually shooting the agent,” Hernandez said.
In a brief statement acknowledging his actions, Osorio-Arellanes apologized for the incident, but pointed out that he too was injured, having been shot three times.
Federal prosecutor Todd Robinson said the defendant had a long history of violent crimes, noting three domestic-violence incidents that included run-ins with police officers, and should not be seen in any way as a victim.
“There is one victim and one victim only, and that’s Brian Terry,” he said.
He also stressed Osorio-Arellanes’ criminal motivations for entering the U.S.
“This is an individual who the very nature of his conspiracy agreement was to rob other individuals,” Robinson said.
At a news conference after Monday’s sentencing, Brian Terry’s cousin Robert Heyer said the family was satisfied with the 30-year sentence.
“We believe 30 years in prison is appropriate,” Heyer said. “This is basically a life sentence.”
He added that the family hopes Mexico would soon extradite two suspects who are in custody in that country.
Osorio-Arellanes could have faced a life sentence under the terms of the plea.
After prison, Osorio-Arellanes will be deported and not allowed to return to the U.S. without written permission from the federal government.
Bury assured the defendant that permission to return would not be forthcoming.
“You will not get that written permission, Mr. Osorio-Arellanes,” Bury said.