Jury may consider lesser charge in border agent trial

FILE - In this March 21, 2018, file photo, Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz, left, makes his way to the U.S. District Court building in downtown Tucs

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2017, file photo, a portrait of 16-year-old Mexican youth Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, who was shot and killed in Nogales, Son

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a U.S. Border Patrol agent charged with second-degree murder for shooting into Mexico and killing a teenager who had been throwing rocks have been told they can consider a lesser charge against him when deciding their verdict.

District Judge Raner Collins told the jury that it can downgrade the charge against agent Lonnie Swartz to voluntary or involuntary manslaughter after it begins deliberations at the U.S. District Court in Tucson on Tuesday morning. Collins delivered his instructions late Monday after closing arguments.

Prosecutors acknowledged during the monthlong trial that 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was throwing rocks from Nogales, Mexico, across the border into the U.S. but say Swartz used an unreasonable amount of force.

Defense attorneys say Swartz was justified to use lethal force and fired in self-defense.