Fruitland man faces 8 years for killing motorcyclist after guilty plea

Felix Curtis faces a maximum sentence of 8 years for killing motorcyclist Brian Brown, also known as Brian Bob Brown, while drunk
• Curtis pleaded guilty without a plea deal
Brown and Curtis were both drunk at the time of the crash

Read the case write-up

FRUITLAND, N.M. — Felix Curtis pleaded guilty, May 14, 2021, virtually in federal court to one count of involuntary manslaughter for drunkenly killing motorcyclist Brian Brown, 39, while drunk in 2019.

Curtis, 26, of Fruitland, pleaded guilty to the Sept. 14, 2019 killing, without a plea agreement, according to minutes from the plea hearing.

Federal Magistrate Judge Paul Briones accepted the plea but deferred final acceptance until sentencing in front of a district court judge.

According to court records, no sentencing hearing has been set.

As part of the guilty plea proceedings, federal prosecutor David Cowen filed a proffer of evidence at trial, the first document outlining what happened to Brown, of Fruitland.

“At the moment Defendant made a left turn towards Canal Road, he crossed into the opposing traffic lane and directly in the travel path of John Doe,” Cowen wrote. “John Doe’s motorcycle collided with the passenger side rear-end of the vehicle that Defendant was driving. The impact of the collision killed John Doe and caused multiple blunt force injuries”

Curtis consented to field sobriety tests. He performed poorly, admitted to drinking alcohol and submitted to a breath test that showed his blood-alcohol content to be between 0.12 and 0.11, Cowen wrote.

The legal-per-se limit in New Mexico is 0.08.

No other court documents list no other details of the case and, if a search warrant in the case was sought, it appears to still be sealed, based on a review of federal search warrants in the weeks following the incident.

Cowen sought a direct indictment, never charging Curtis in magistrate court. On Aug. 11, 2020, 11 months after Brown’s death, a federal grand jury indicted him on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Brown is referred to as John Doe in court records but he is named in his obituary, which contains no other information about him.

Federal Magistrate Judge Gregory Fouratt ordered Curtis released to the La Pasada Halfway House in Albuquerque during his arraignment on Sept. 23, 2020, according to court minutes, and ordered an unsecured $10,000 bond. The docket does not indicate when Curtis was arrested, although the case was not unsealed, and an initial appearance set, until Sept. 17, 2020. No warrants appear in the docket.

Pathologist Karen Cline-Parhamovich wrote in the autopsy report that Brown suffered “lethal traumatic injuries” that caused bleeding in his chest and within the sac that surrounds the heart, along with multiple fractures to the ribs, upper arm bones, and legs.

“The cause of death is multiple blunt force injuries,” she wrote.

Although no court records indicate Brown was at fault for the crash, Brown was drunk, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.21, according to the toxicology report.

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