Suspect Involved in Border Patrol Agent’s Death Begins Trial

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BROWNSVILLE – It’s been three and half years since the murder of an off-duty Border Patrol agent in Willacy County. Finally, one of his alleged murderers is standing trial.

Agent Javier Vega Jr. was killed while he was fishing with his family near Santa Monica.

According to authorities, the two alleged murderers came up to Vega and his family and tried to rob them. Instead, the agent was killed and his father injured. 

Now, the Willacy County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty.

The capital murder trial was moved to Cameron County in 2015 and will be taking place in the 197th District Court.

Accused murderers, Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval and Ismael Hernandez-Vallejo, both Mexican nationals, will stand separate trials.

A pool of about 400 jurors has been summoned for Tijerina-Sandoval’s trial. Jury selection in the case is set to begin Tuesday.

Cameron County District Clerk Eric Garza tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS in cases in which the state seeks the death penalty, more jurors are summoned to give the defense and state the fairest options to select a jury.

"If it was our case, we would want to have a diverse group of jurors that would be able to look at the information, look at the evidence and decide for us, what they believe is the outcome of the case," he says. "So, it's probably one of our most important rights in the United States."

Although Vega was killed while off duty, his death was reclassified as a death in the line of duty in 2016.

Vega’s parents are from La Feria. A street in the city was named after the agent.

There is also an ongoing effort to rename the Sarita checkpoint after Vega.

We’ll be following this case as it unfolds in court.


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