US pilot's fate with jury in Texas drowning case

September 1, 2011 - 10:10 AM

HOUSTON (AP) — A South Texas jury is deciding the fate of a government pilot accused of lying about hovering his helicopter over two would-be illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande before one of the men drowned.

Jurors resumed deliberations Thursday in the federal trial of 41-year-old James Peters. The Department of Homeland Security pilot is accused of making false statements to authorities investigating the drowning.

Prosecutors say surveillance video shows that Peters flew within 100 feet of an international bridge in Laredo to drive the men back to Mexico as they tried to cross into the U.S.

Officials say turbulence from the helicopter's rotor blades caused Carlos Delgadillo Martinez to lose his grip on an inner tube.

Defense attorneys say Peters never lied and the video offers no proof anyone drowned.