Mistrial Declared After Jury Fails to Convict Christian Aid Volunteer Who Tried to Help Illegal Immigrants

Scott Warren, center, speaks outside federal court, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. in Tucson, Ariz., after a mistrial was declared in the federal case against him. The jury announced it was deadlocked in the case against Warren, a border activist charged with conspiracy to transport and harbor migrants, in a trial that humanitarian aid groups said would have wide implications on their work. (AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)

A federal jury in Arizona failed to convict a Christian volunteer who faced the possibility of 20 years in prison after providing humanitarian aid to unauthorized immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins issued a mistrial Tuesday after a hung 12-person jury could not decide whether to convict 36-year-old aid volunteer Scott Warren on three charges.

Warren was charged in January 2018 with one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants (punishable by up to 10 years in prison) and two counts of harboring illegal immigrants.

According to No More Deaths, a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tuscon that Warren served with, the jury was split with eight in favor of acquitting the defendant and four against such a move. The jury was dismissed by Collins after they indicated that more time in deliberation would not help.

Collins scheduled a conference on July 2 to hear whether the prosecution will proceed with a retrial in Warren’s case.

“Scott Warren remains innocent, both as a legal and as a factual matter, because the jury could not unanimously conclude otherwise,” Warren’s lawyer Greg Kuykendall said in a statement. “The government put on its best case and 12 jurors could not agree with that case. We remain fully devoted in our commitment to defend Scott’s lifelong devotion to providing humanitarian aid.”

Prosecutors argued during the trial that the two migrants that Warren was charged with helping were in good health and were not in need of medical care when they showed up to a migrant aid location known as “The Barn” located in the town of Ajo about 30 miles from the border.

According to Tucson.com, prosecutor Anna Wright claimed that humanitarian aid was a “cover story.” She also contended that Warren was “the hub” of a human-smuggling ring that also involved a man who ran a migrant shelter just across the border in Sonoyta, Mexico.

Warren was accused of conspiring to help Kristian Perez-Villanueva from El Salvador and Jose Sacaria-Goday of Honduras cross the border illegally and help them get to Phoenix.

The prosecution also claims that Warren’s goal was to “thwart the Border Patrol at every possible turn” in order to help illegal border crossings.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith