TUCSON — The judge in the sanctuary movement trial dropped two more criminal counts Wednesday while the defense sought dismissal of the remaining 36 charges against the 11 religious defendants.
U.S. District Judge Earl Carroll has thrown out eight counts in the last two days for lack of evidence. He dropped six counts Tuesday.
The latest dropped charges involved Nena McDonald, 38, of Lubbock, Tex., and Philip Willis-Conger, 27, of the Tucson Ecumenical Council's refugee task force. The prosecutor said he was unable to prove that a family they were accused of assisting came from El Salvador.
Defense lawyers attacked the remaining counts, accusing Assistant U.S. Atty. Donald M. Reno Jr. of misconduct in granting a newspaper interview.
Reno was quoted by a Tucson newspaper as saying the public cannot grasp the constitutional issues of church and state raised by the trial of the 11 sanctuary movement leaders from Arizona, Texas and Mexico.