Former agent faces trial in immigrant’s decapitation killing

BROWNSVILLE — A former U.S. Border Patrol Agent accused of participating in the death of a Honduran native, whose headless body was found floating in the Laguna Madre, will stand trial alongside his brothers.

Judge Benjamin Euresti Jr. of the 107th state District Court in Brownsville on Thursday ruled that Joel Luna would be tried simultaneously with his brothers in the capital murder case.

Luna’s attorney, Carlos A. Garcia, argued Luna should be granted a motion for severance because being tried for Honduran native Jose Francisco “Franklin” Rodriguez Palacios Paz’s murder — when Luna had a clear alibi — will result in him being unfairly prejudiced against.

“My client has no criminal record … the accusations of murders and kidnappings are bad information that could bleed over and impugn my client,” Garcia said.

Authorities have alleged that Luna has ties to the drug cartels.

The state disputed Garcia’s argument, stating the defendant had to show a serious risk to a special right or demonstrate how the trial would prevent a jury from reaching a reasonable decision.

Euresti denied the motion.

After his arrest last year, the county sheriff’s department found more than a kilo of cocaine, $90,000 in cash, firearms and Luna’s Border Patrol badge in a safe at the home of his mother-in-law, according to investigators.

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