Santa Barbara- S County

Boat Operator Found Guilty of Killing Coast Guardsman

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A federal jury in Los Angeles has convicted a Mexican national of killing a U.S. Coast Guard crewman when he rammed a 30-foot drug smuggling boat into the vessel the victim was aboard.

U.S. attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek says Jose Meija Leyva was found guilty Wednesday of second-degree murder of a federal officer.

Meija Leyva rammed his boat into a Coast Guard vessel as it approached on Dec. 2, 2012, during a drug-smuggling investigation off the coast of Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III was knocked into the water. He was fatally struck in the head by the boat's propeller. Another guardsman was injured.

A second man aboard the vessel, Manuel Beltran Higuera of Mexico, was convicted of lesser charges.

Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess on May 12.

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