On Wednesday afternoon, a jury in Tucson found activist and former ASU faculty associate Scott Warren not guilty of two federal charges of harboring migrants, which comes after the jury in his first trial failed to reach a decision.
Warren was arrested in Ajo, Arizona in 2018 while working as a volunteer for the group No Más Muertes and was arrested on suspicion of harboring, concealing or shielding migrants in a building known as "the barn."
This trial served as his second federal felony trial this year; the first was in June when a mistrial was declared after the jury couldn't decide if Warren had broken the law.
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Michael Ostling, faculty adviser for No Más Muertes ASU, speaking on his own behalf rather than for the organization, said he feels happy about the verdict but saddened that the trials have taken attention away from the issues at hand.
"It's been almost two years now that he has not been able to do the humanitarian aid work to which he’s felt called, and it's quite likely people have died because of that," said Ostling. "He’s been tied up in a legal case that should have never been brought forward and … humanitarian work in the desert is so desperately needed."
Ostling said the work the group does is important because many migrants cross in the desert, and some die due to lack of water, food and shelter. He believes the trial may have cast a negative light on the work they do.
"Anything that makes people think twice whether it's legal, and it is legal, to provide humanitarian aid … has a pretty direct and potentially fatal effect," said Ostling.
Warren's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The State Press. A phone call to the U.S. attorneys in the case went straight to voicemail, and an email seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Editor's Note: This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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