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FBI Rules Out Friendly Fire In Border Agent's Murder

Federal investigators have ruled out friendly fire in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent outside of Nogales. Three men who were being held on felony immigration charges related to that case are being released. A fourth man remains in custody.

Photo courtesy U.S. Border Patrol.

Slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Agent Brian Terry was part of an elite squad of the Border Patrol hunting out bandits in Peck Canyon. It's a remote part of the border outside of Nogales. Shortly before midnight in december, Terry's patrol encountered a group of bandits, bajadores. A gunfight ensued. One bandit was wounded, Terry died at the scene. But some details of the murder haven't been made clear until now.

Manuel Johnson is the spokesman for the FBI's Phoenix field office.

"There is no evidence of friendly fire in the Terry investigation," he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors say two of the four men picked up the night of the killing have pleaded guilty to immigration charges and will be deported along with a third man.

Robbie Sherwood is the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona.

"Based upon an extensive investigation conducted to date, there is no evidence tying these three individuals to the shooting."

A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media said the three men were merely in an area NEAR the shooting and the investigation has cleared them.

Maricopa County Superior Court records show that the man was deported in 2006 for assaulting a police officer in Mesa. He was arrested and deported again in June 2010 by the Border Patrol in Nogales.

A fourth man, one injured in the gunfight, remains in custody on immigration charges. But two months after Terry's death, nobody has been charged in the  murder.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.