(AP) A Mexican court has overturned the convictions of two men in the 1998 killing of a U.S. journalist, sending the case back to a state appeals court, the defendants’ lawyers said Thursday.
Philip True, 50, a reporter for the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News, was killed while hiking through the Huichol mountains of western Mexico.
The two defendants, Juan Chivarra de la Cruz and Miguel Hernandez de la Cruz, have been free during the appeals process and are apparently living on the mountain farms near where True was found strangled.
The ruling earlier this week marks the latest chapter in a complex, four-year legal battle over his death.
In May, an appeals court in the western state of Jalisco overturned a previous acquittal of two Huichol Indians in the death and sentenced them to 13 years in prison, the minimum for intentional homicide.
This week, the federal court ruled the state court erred by allowing a justice to participate in the deliberations even though he had been asked to recuse himself from the case, said defense attorney Arturo Zamora.
“It’s like starting the appeals process over,” True’s widow, Martha True, said in a telephone interview from her home in Brownsville, Texas. “We are going to keep fighting.”
Express-News Editor Robert Rivard also pledged to continue the fight.
A search party found True’s body on Dec. 16, 1998 inside his sleeping bag and buried in a shallow grave at the bottom of a deep ravine near the defendants’ farm.