Murder convictions upheld for 2 men in connection with border agent’s death

An appeals court has upheld murder convictions for two men in the 2010 fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death revealed the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling investigation.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed the murder convictions of Ivan Soto-Barraza and Jesus Lionel Sanchez-Meza in Agent Brian Terry’s death.

Terry was killed in a firefight north of the Arizona-Mexico border between U.S. agents and men who had sneaked into the country to rob marijuana smugglers.

Two rifles bought by a gun-smuggling ring that was being monitored through “Fast and Furious” were found at the scene of the firefight.

Authorities who conducted the investigation faced criticism for allowing suspected straw gun buyers for a smuggling ring to walk away from gun shops in Arizona with weapons, rather than arrest them and seize the guns.

The investigation’s failures were later examined in congressional hearings.

In all, seven people were charged in Terry’s death.

Soto-Barraza, Jesus Lionel Sanchez-Meza and three others are serving life sentences after pleading guilty or being convicted.

While upholding all but one of their convictions against Soto-Barraza and Jesus Lionel Sanchez-Meza, the appeals court threw out their conviction for discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.