Teen gets 20 years in prison for the deaths of nine immigrants

Junior Rodriguez at sentencing

A Hidalgo County teenager will spend the next 20 years in prison for the deaths of nine illegal immigrants in Palmview.

Junior Benjamin Rodriguez appeared before Judge Israel Ramon, Jr. in the 430th State District Court in Edinburg on Tuesday afternoon.

Rodriguez was accused of nine counts of murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The Hidalgo County teen was 15 years old when he was driving a mini-van filled with illegal immgrants back in April 2012.

A chase with Border Patrol agents ended with nine of the immigrants being killed and Rodriguez being certified as an adult.

Under Texas state law, manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable from two to 20 years in prison.

Texas state law also requires that the sentencing for the nine counts to be served concurrently.

Six adults convicted of participating in the human smuggling network connected to the case were sentenced in McAllen's federal court back in June.

Those six people were sentenced for their roles ranging from six years and six months to 11 years in federal prison.