‘I’m Happy He’s Coming Home Soon,’ Border Agent’s Wife Says
January 19, 2009 - 8:27 PMPatty Compean's prayers were answered Monday with the announcement that President Bush was commuting the 12-year sentence of her husband, former Border Patrol Agent Jose Compean, as well as the 11-year sentence of former Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos.
“I’m just happy with the outcome. I’m happy he’s coming home soon,” Patty Compean told CNSNews.com about her husband. “I’m just trying to take it all in.”
The conviction of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who have already served more than two years of their sentences for shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler in the buttocks, ignited a political firestorm prompting members of Congress from both parties to call for President Bush to issue a pardon or commutation.
The two men will not be released until March 20, said Patty Compean. As of Monday afternoon, she said, she had not had a chance to talk to her husband. She would have preferred if his release date were sooner, she said, but “right now all I wanted is for him to come home.”
Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, who was shot along the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso in February 2005, had been hauling 743 pounds of marijuana in a van when Ramos and Compean stopped him and then pursued him on foot. The smuggler, who got away into Mexico at the time, suffered a shattered urethra from the shooting.
Aldrete-Davila was later sought out by federal prosecutors and the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s office that investigated the matter. They wanted him to return to the United States – not to face justice – but to be the star witness against the two border agents.
Prosecutors gave Aldrete-Davila a humanitarian pass to enter and exit the United States unsupervised. Aldrete-Davila then smuggled more drugs into the country. The jury in the Ramos and Compean trial was not allowed to learn about Aldrete-Davila’s second smuggling load, because prosecutors convinced the judge in the case that the information could jeopardize a future case against Aldrete-Davila.
Last year, Aldrete-Davila pleaded guilty to the subsequent drug smuggling operation and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Both the House and Senate held hearings into the case against Ramos and Compean. Senators grilled Johnny Sutton, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, for prosecuting the agents.
Sutton defended the case as a righteous prosecution, because he said the agents shot an unarmed man and did not realize he was carrying drugs at the time they shot him.
Sutton issued the following statement on Monday after President Bush commuted the border agents’ prison sentences:
Today, the President exercised his power under the Constitution to grant executive clemency to former Border Patrol Agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. Like the trial judge and the court that reviewed the cases on appeal, President Bush found that Compean and Ramos were justly convicted of serious crimes and that their status as convicted felons should remain in place.
After careful thought and deliberation, President Bush has concluded that Compean and Ramos have been sufficiently punished, and that the remainder of their terms should be spent on supervised release. I have only the highest respect for the President’s decision to allow their convictions to stand, but to reduce the time they must spend in prison.
Members of Congress expressed their happiness that Bush commuted the sentences of Ramos and Compean.
“Our prayers have been answered,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who had repeatedly and forcefully called on President Bush to show mercy on the former agents. “This is not just a day of celebration for the families but it is a victory for all Americans, while acknowledging our system is flawed, to see that if they are involved, if they speak up and utilize their freedom, injustices can be corrected.”
“The hearts of all patriotic Americans are filled with joy at the announcement that our brave border defenders, Ramos and Compean, will be freed from unjust captivity,” Rohrabacher said.
“We are grateful at long last that President Bush has done the right thing by these men and their families and the president should be included in our prayers of gratitude,” Rohrabacher said. “I am humbled by the sincerity of support I saw over the last two and half years for Ramos and Compean from both sides of the political aisle and everyday Americans throughout our country.”
Joe Loya, Ignacio Ramos’ father-in-law, expressed relief about the case.
“After four years of fighting this, it’s taken a toll on me and my daughter, and really the whole family,” Loya told the Associated Press. Of his daughter, he said, “She could hardly speak.”