Published on May 13th, 2013 | by Daniel Perlman0
Bond raised for teen in Palmview 9 trial
The teen driver in the Palmview wreck that killed nine of the immigrants he was allegedly smuggling last year has been formally charged with new counts in the case.
On Thursday morning, Junior Benjamin Rodriguez, 16, went before Auxiliary Judge Linda Yanez, who arraigned him on nine counts of murder and nine counts of causing the death of an individual while evading police with a motor vehicle.
Bond for Rodriguez was originally set at $225,000, but because prosecutors recently added nine counts of the lesser charge, the 16-year-old’s bond was raised by $27,000 to total $252,000. He was being held at the Hidalgo County Jail.
Others in the court gasped as they heard the charges that were being levied against the small-framed teen with dark-rimmed glasses and a boyish face.
Even though Rodriguez is a minor, he was certified as an adult by 332nd state District Judge Mario Ramirez in March.
The charges against Rodriguez stem from an April 2012 wreck that occurred as he tried to flee a Border Patrol unit near the city of Palmview in a van packed with immigrants thought to be in the country illegally.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez lost control of the vehicle, which spun around, causing the immigrants to fly out of the van and killing nine of them.
But witnesses have testified in previous hearings that the van was bumped from behind by a Border Patrol vehicle, causing the wreck.
Murder is a first-degree felony, punishable upon conviction by a prison term of five to 99 years in prison, while causing the death of an individual while evading police with a motor vehicle is a second-degree felony, punishable upon conviction by a term of two to 20 years in prison.
Source: themonitor.com “Bond raised for teen in Palmview 9 trial,” May 14, 2013.