Scott Warren, a humanitarian activist with the group No More Deaths in Arizona and low-key Beto O’Rourke lookalike, was acquitted Wednesday for the second time on charges that he illegally harbored undocumented migrants in the desert. In both trials (the first was declared a mistrial in June 2019), Warren was accused of two felony counts. After the first mistrial, prosecutors dismissed a conspiracy charge and proceeded with the felonies.
Warren is a college geography instructor. No More Deaths is a direct aid organization working to stop “death and suffering” in the borderlands. (Warren and other were arrested in January, but he was the only to face a felony charge.)
The jury took only hours to reach its verdict in U.S. district court on Wednesday.
The volunteer has denied helping migrants avoid law enforcement. Instead, his actions include leaving water for migrants and volunteering at the organization’s camp to help the injured. “We need to work within the spirit of humanitarian aid and within the confines of the law,” Warren told the Associated Press.
Warren’s lawyer said the jury “parsed the evidence” to find that this type of help isn’t a crime. “They paid rapt attention while we were putting on our defense and while the prosecution was putting on its case, and they decided that humanitarian aid is not always a crime, the way the government wanted it to be,” Greg Kuykendall told The Associated Press.