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

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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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Man charged for double DWI homicide in Dexter set for arraignment

John Ensor is accused of crashing head-on into another car near Dexter, killing two girls, on April 4, 2021
• He waived a preliminary hearing

The district court arraignment is set for 9 a.m., May 17 in Roswell
• Ensor is being held without bail pending trial after being found a danger to the community

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ROSWELL, N.M. — John Ensor‘s vehicular homicide case, for the fiery deaths of two Dexter girls after he allegedly crashed head-on into them while driving drunk or high, was moved to district court after Ensor waived a preliminary hearing.

Mug shot of John Ensor, charged with two counts of DUI vehicle homicide for the deaths of two sisters, aged 17 and 12 in an alleged head-on crash.
John Ensor

Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Taylor Jaggers filed the criminal information on April 28, 2021, charging Ensor, 33, of Roswell, with the same seven charges levied in magistrate court: two counts of DWI vehicular homicide and one count each of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine, driving on a license revoked for DWI, overtaking on the left, driving an unregistered vehicle and no insurance.

Ensor’s waiver does not state if he received any benefit or consideration from the prosecutor for waiving the hearing.

His arraignment is set for 9 a.m., May 17 in Roswell at the Chaves County Courthouse.

Jaggers wrote that he would have called six witnesses if the judge held a preliminary hearing: State Police Officer Trent Eby, Jason Knapp, Kiersten Harzewski, State Police Officer Marcus Gonzales, Mari Scott-Cihiy and Robert Sparks.

Eby wrote in an affidavit for a criminal complaint that, on April 4, 2021, Ensor was trying to pass multiple vehicles on State Road 2 near Crockett Yard Road in Dexter, when he crashed head-on into the Ford Focus driven by Danae Sosa, 17. Her sister, Darely, 12, was in the car with her.Eby wrote, based on an investigation by State Police Officer Marcus Gonzales, that multiple witnesses said after the crash, the sisters were unconscious and trapped in the car, which soon burst into flames. Officers found a syringe of alleged heroin and methamphetamine on the floorboard of his car.

“Witnesses reportedly attempted to extract Danae and Darely Sosa from their vehicle before it engulfed in flames but were unable to do so due to the amount of damage their vehicle sustained,” Eby wrote.

Ensor was initially released, once he got out of the hospital, and ordered to appear for a future court appearance. Prosecutors then filed to have him held in jail until trial and at an April 16 hearing, District Judge Thomas Lilley found a danger to the community.

In an order outlining his reasoning filed on April 22, Lilley wrote that Ensor has “established a pattern and practice of dangerous driving,” based on the homicide case as well as two prior drunk driving convictions.

Sisters Danae and Darely Sosa were remembered, in their obituaries.

Danae Sosa was a senior at Dexter High school and also attended the Goddard High School. She was part of the volleyball and track teams her freshman and sophomore years, according to her obituary.

“She enjoyed working out, shopping, thrifting, and spending time with family and friends. Her favorite things to do were playing Call of Duty, taking selfies, and listening to music,” according to her obituary.

Darely Sosa was a sixth-grade student at Dexter Middle School. In the fifth grade at Washington Avenue Elementary School, she was the vice president of her class and always on the honor roll, according to her obituary.

“Darely was a loving and compassionate person who enjoyed spending time with her sisters. She enjoyed reading, writing in her journal, playing Call of Duty, eating, and watching Anime. Darely was creative when it came to editing videos and photos, she always looked forward to it,” according to her obituary.

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Roswell man held without bail after fiery DWI crash kills two Dexter sisters

John Ensor allegedly crashed head-on into an oncoming car on April 4, 2021
Sisters Danae and Darely, ages 17 and 12, died in the crash after bystanders were unable to get them our of their car before it burst into flames
• Ensor will be held without bail pending trial after Judge Thomas Lilley found him a danger to the community on April 16

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ROSWELL, N.M. — John Ensor will be held without bail indefinitely after he allegedly killed two girls from Dexter, ages 12 and 17, in a fiery drunk driving crash on April 4, 2021.

District Judge Thomas Lilley found Ensor, 33, of Roswell, is a danger to the community and ordered him held without bail following a dangerousness hearing on April 16, 2021.

Ensor is charged in magistrate court with two counts of DWI vehicular homicide for the crash that killed Darely Sosa, 12, and sister Danae Sosa, 17. Darely Sosa is referred to as Daraly Sosa in court documents.

Mug shot of John Ensor, charged with two counts of DUI vehicle homicide for the deaths of two sisters, aged 17 and 12 in an alleged head-on crash.
John Ensor

State Police Officer Trent Eby wrote in court documents that Ensor was trying to pass multiple vehicles on State Road 2 near Crockett Yard Road in Dexter, when he crashed head-on into the Ford Focus that Danae was driving.

Roswell Magistrate Judge E. J. Fouratt initially ordered Ensor released on his own recognizance on April 6, after Eby filed a criminal complaint charging him with DWI vehicular homicide. Ensor was still in the hospital at the time and Fouratt ordered him to contact the magistrate court within 72 hours of being released.

The following day, April 7, Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Sarah Jean Grew filed an expedited motion for pre-trial detention. She wrote that Ensor had two previous drunk driving convictions various shoplifting and theft-related cases. In his second drunk driving case, from May 7, 2020, he drove his car over a curb and when police arrived, he was slumped over the wheel. He pleaded guilty in that case in August 2020.

“Defendant has an extensive criminal history in New Mexico that clearly belies an ongoing, serious substance abuse issue,” Grew wrote. “Tragically, his addiction has now led to the death of two young girls.”

Grew wrote that Ensor does not “respect or comply with court orders” and cited his multiple probation violations, being arrested while on probation, his failure to appear at court hearings and his failure to pay fines. Although Grew cites Ensor’s failure to pay court fines, she also wrote that he has a “serious substance abuse issue.” She did not write how someone with a “serious substance abuse issue” would be able to pay court fines and fees.

The American Civil Liberties Union has come out against the use and abuse of court fees to keep people trapped in a “modern-day debtor’s prison.”

Grew lumped his non-appearances into his failure to pay what could be problematic court fines and fees.

“The defendant has six failures to appear and pay in his past, as well as multiple probation violations,” she wrote.

Lilley issued a no-bond warrant on April 12 after Ensor failed to appear for the pre-trial detention hearing.

According to minutes from that hearing, an attorney appeared filling in for William Waggoner, Ensor’s attorney. Lilley issued the warrant after finding Ensor did not appear.

The court minutes do not state if Waggoner had been in contact with Ensor, if anyone confirmed he was released from the hospital or if he had been told about the hearing.

Although no warrant return was entered into the court record, a hearing on the motion to hold Ensor without bail was scheduled on April 14 for April 16, 2021.

According to the minutes from the April 16 hearing, Lilley heard from Gonzales and Eby and found Ensor is a danger to the community, granting Grew’s motion for indefinite pre-trial detention.

A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m., April 23, 2021.

The crash

On April 4, 2021, around 2:30 p.m., Ensor allegedly tried to pass multiple vehicles on State Road 2, near Crockett Yard Road, when he crashed his Oldsmobile Bravada head-on into a 2009 Ford Focus driven by Danae Sosa, 17, Eby wrote in an affidavit for a criminal complaint.

Eby wrote, based on an investigation by State Police Officer Marcus Gonzales, that multiple witnesses said after the crash, Danae Sosa and sister Darely Sosa, 12, of Dexter, were unconscious and trapped in the car, which soon burst into flames.

“Witnesses reportedly attempted to extract Danae and Darely Sosa from their vehicle before it engulfed in flames but were unable to do so due to the amount of damage their vehicle sustained,” Eby wrote.

Eby wrote that by the time he arrived, the Focus was severely burned and heavily damaged and the bodies of both girls were still inside. Gonzales told Eby that he found a syringe in Ensor’s vehicle and that he was being transported to the hospital.

A day later a “TruNarc” test showed the syringe to be filled with a “fentanyl compound and/or methamphetamines,” he wrote.

At the hospital, unidentified “ambulance personnel” told Eby at the hospital that Ensor said he was drinking in Cloudcroft earlier in the day, Eby wrote.

Eby wrote he found the syringe where Gonzales said it was and another officer. Austin Wilson, volunteered to collect it as evidence. He then drove to the hospital where Ensor was taken. Ensor was intubated and unconscious, with a breathing tube down his throat. Eby read the unconscious Ensor the state’s implied consent law and then had his blood drawn.

He wrote he did this in compliance with the 2019 Supreme Court case Mitchell v. Wisconsin, which found that generally, police can conduct warrantless blood draws on drunk driving suspects.

In 2018, New Mexico changed its implied consent law to allow for warrantless blood draws.

Eby wrote that Ensor’s sport-utility vehicle’s registration was expired and had no insurance and according to a National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, query, Ensor’s driver’s license was suspended for drunk driving and he had two prior drunk driving convictions.

Danae and Darely Sosa

Danae, 17, and Darely Sosa, 12, also known by the last name Sosa-Zubia, were both born in Phoenix, Ariz., to Manuel Aaron Sosa Marquez and Iveth Sosa Zubia. They lived in Dexter.

Danae Sosa was a senior at Dexter High school and also attended the Goddard High School. She was part of the volleyball and track teams her freshman and sophomore years, according to her obituary.

“She enjoyed working out, shopping, thrifting, and spending time with family and friends,” according to her obituary. “Her favorite things to do were playing Call of Duty, taking selfies, and listening to music.”

Danae Sosa was fun, outgoing and vivacious and she “dearly loved” being part of the Dance of the Matachines.

“When you think of Danae, celebrate the good memories you have of her,” according to her obituary. “Remember that life is fragile and short and should be lived to the fullest.”

Sister Darely Sosa was a sixth-grade student at Dexter Middle School. In the fifth grade at Washington Avenue Elementary School, she was the vice president of her class and always on the honor roll, according to her obituary.

“Darely was a loving and compassionate person who enjoyed spending time with her sisters,” according to her obituary. “She enjoyed reading, writing in her journal, playing Call of Duty, eating, and watching Anime. Darely was creative when it came to editing videos and photos, she always looked forward to it. ”

Darely was outgoing and enjoyed being in the Dance of the Matachines.

“Darely will be remembered for her uniqueness and the way she could captivate people and their hearts,” according to her obituary.

Both girls are survived by their parents, sister Debany Sosa and grandparents Emilia Berzoza Valles, Maria Sosa Marquez and Jesus Navarette.

Darely Sosa is also survived by her precious pets, Boots the cat and Lucky the dog.

Danae Sosa is also survived by her pets Cyder and Moonia.

See the case documents on DocumentCloud.

Continue reading “Roswell man held without bail after fiery DWI crash kills two Dexter sisters”

John Ensor: Danae Sosa, Darely Sosa — 4-4-2021

 

Summary

On April 4, 2021, while trying to pass multiple vehicles on State Road 2 near Crockett Yard Road, John Ensor, 33, allegedly crashed into an oncoming car driven by Danae Sosa, 17. Her sister, Darely Sosa, 12, was in the front seat. Their car was soon engulfed in flames, with the two unconscious girls inside, despite witness attempts to get them out of their badly damaged vehicle, according to court documents.

Ensor was then charged with two counts of DUI vehicular homicide after police found a syringe of fentanyl and methamphetamine in the Oldsmobile Bravada he drove. After initially being released on his own recognizance while he was still in the hospital, prosecutor Sarah Jean Grew asked he be held without bail pending trial. District Judge Thomas Lilley ordered he be held without bail pending trial following a hearing on April 16, 2021 where he took testimony from investigators.

On April 22, Ensor waived a preliminary hearing and prosecutors filed a criminal information charging him with two counts of vehicular homicide on April 28, 2021.

 

The incident

On April 4, 2021, around 2:30 p.m., John Ensor, 33, of Roswell, allegedly tried to pass multiple vehicles on State Road 2, near Crockett Yard Road, when he crashed his Oldsmobile Bravada head-on into a 2009 Ford Focus driven by Danae Sosa, 17, State Police Officer Trent Eby wrote in an affidavit for a criminal complaint.

Eby wrote, based on an investigation by State Police Officer Marcus Gonzales, that multiple witnesses said after the crash, Danae Sosa and sister Darely Sosa, 12, of Dexter, were unconscious and trapped in the car, which soon burst into flames.

Mug shot of John Ensor, charged with two counts of DUI vehicle homicide for the deaths of two sisters, aged 17 and 12 in an alleged head-on crash.
John Ensor

“Witnesses reportedly attempted to extract Danae and Darely Sosa from their vehicle before it engulfed in flames but were unable to do so due to the amount of damage their vehicle sustained,” Eby wrote.

Eby wrote that by the time he arrived, the Focus was severely burned and heavily damaged and the bodies of both girls were still inside. Gonzales told Eby that he found a “loaded syringe” with what he assumed to be heroin on the front floorboard of the Bravada. By the time Eby arrived, Ensor was being transported to the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center. Gonzales told him he believed Ensor may have been drunk or high at the time of the crash.

A day later a “TruNarc” test showed the syringe to be filled with a “fentanyl compound and/or methamphetamines,” he wrote.

Unidentified “ambulance personnel” told Eby at the hospital that Ensor said he was drinking in Cloudcroft earlier in the day, Eby wrote.

Eby wrote he found the syringe where Gonzales said it was and another officer. Austin Wilson, volunteered to collect it as evidence. He then drove to the hospital where Ensor was taken. Ensor was intubated and unconscious, with a breathing tube down his throat. Eby read the unconscious Ensor the state’s implied consent law and received no response and then had his blood drawn.

He wrote he did this in compliance with the 2019 Supreme Court case Mitchell v. Wisconsin, which found that generally, police can conduct warrantless blood draws on drunk driving suspects.

In 2018, New Mexico changed its implied consent law to allow for warrantless blood draws.

Eby wrote that Ensor’s sport-utility vehicle’s registration was expired and had no insurance and according to a National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, query, Ensor’s driver’s license was suspended for drunk driving and he had two prior drunk driving convictions.

Two days later, Eby filed a criminal complaint charging Ensor with two counts of DUI vehicular homicide and one count each of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine, driving on a license revoked for DUI, overtaking on the left, driving an unregistered vehicle and no insurance.

In an order holding Ensor without bail pending trial filed on April 22, District Judge Thomas Lilley wrote that Ensor’s girlfriend, Margaret Briggs, told Ensor’s uncle and “another” that she was drinking with him earlier in the day and that she felt guilty for letting him drive, instead of driving him herself. Cloudcroft, where he told ambulance personnel he had been drinking, is two hours from the crash site.

Released on own recognizance

On April 6, the day Eby filed the criminal complaint charging Ensor, Roswell Magistrate Judge E. J. Fouratt ordered Ensor released on his own recognizance once he was released from the hospital and ordered him to contact the magistrate court within 72 hours of being released. He also ordered Ensor to appear in the magistrate court on April 26 for a court hearing.

Prosecutors move for indefinite detention

A day after Eby filed the charges against Ensor, Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Sarah Jean Grew filed an expedited motion for pre-trial detention, to keep Ensor in jail indefinitely, without bail, pending trial.

She wrote that as evidence was Ensor’s previous two convictions for drunk driving, the weight of evidence in the case against him and various shoplifting and theft-related cases. In his second drunk driving case, from May 7, 2020, he drove his car over a curb and when police arrived, he was slumped over the wheel. He pleaded guilty in that case in August 2020.

“Defendant has an extensive criminal history in New Mexico that clearly belies an ongoing, serious substance abuse issue,” Grew wrote. “Tragically, his addiction has now led to the death of two young girls.”

Grew wrote that Ensor does not “respect or comply with court orders” and cited his multiple probation violations, being arrested while on probation, his failure to appear at court hearings and his failure to pay fines.

Although Grew cites Ensor’s failure to pay court fines, she also wrote that he has a “serious substance abuse issue.” She did not write how someone with a “serious substance abuse issue” would be able to pay court fines and fees.

The American Civil Liberties Union has come out against the use and abuse of court fees to keep people trapped in a “modern-day debtor’s prison.”

Grew wrote that Ensor continuously fails to appear for court and lumped his non-appearances into his failure to pay what could be problematic fines and fees.

“The defendant has six failures to appear and pay in his past, as well as multiple probation violations,” she wrote.

Warrant issued after court no-show on April 12, 2021

District Judge Thomas Lilley issued a warrant for Ensor’s arrest on April 12 after he failed to appear for a hearing earlier that day on Grew’s motion to hold him in jail indefinitely.

According to minutes from that hearing, an attorney appeared filling in for William Waggoner, Ensor’s attorney. Lilley issued the warrant after finding Ensor did not appear.

The court minutes do not state if Waggoner had been in contact with Ensor, if anyone confirmed he was released from the hospital or if he had been told about the hearing.

Lilley said, according to the minutes, he would set a pre-trial detention hearing once Ensor was arrested on the warrant.

Held without bail pending trial

Although no warrant return was entered into the court record, a hearing on the motion to hold Ensor without bail was scheduled on April 14 for April 16, 2021.

According to the minutes from the April 16 hearing, Lilley heard from Gonzales and Eby and found Ensor is a danger to the community, granting Grew’s motion for indefinite pre-trial detention.

A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m., April 23.

Danae and Darely Sosa

Danae, 17, and Darely Sosa, 12, also known by the last name Sosa-Zubia, were both born in Phoenix, Ariz., to Manuel Aaron Sosa Marquez and Iveth Sosa Zubia. They lived in Dexter.

Darely Sosa is referred to in court documents as Daraly Sosa.

Danae Sosa was a senior at Dexter High school and also attended the Goddard High School. She was part of the volleyball and track teams her freshman and sophomore years, according to her obituary.

“She enjoyed working out, shopping, thrifting, and spending time with family and friends,” according to her obituary. “Her favorite things to do were playing Call of Duty, taking selfies, and listening to music.”

Danae Sosa was fun, outgoing and vivacious and she “dearly loved” being part of the Dance of the Matachines.

“When you think of Danae, celebrate the good memories you have of her,” according to her obituary. “Remember that life is fragile and short and should be lived to the fullest.”

Sister Darely Sosa was a sixth-grade student at Dexter Middle School. In the fifth grade at Washington Avenue Elementary School, she was the vice president of her class and always on the honor roll, according to her obituary.

“Darely was a loving and compassionate person who enjoyed spending time with her sisters,” according to her obituary. “She enjoyed reading, writing in her journal, playing Call of Duty, eating, and watching Anime. Darely was creative when it came to editing videos and photos, she always looked forward to it. ”

Darely was outgoing and enjoyed being in the Dance of the Matachines.

“Darely will be remembered for her uniqueness and the way she could captivate people and their hearts,” according to her obituary.

Both girls are survived by their parents, sister Debany Sosa and grandparents Emilia Berzoza Valles, Maria Sosa Marquez and Jesus Navarette.

Darely Sosa is also survived by her precious pets, Boots the cat and Lucky the dog.

Danae Sosa is also survived by her pets Cyder and Moonia.

See the case documents on DocumentCloud.

Past stories

Roswell man held without bail after fiery DWI crash kills two Dexter sisters

Case documents

Raylan Reano sentenced to 9 months for probation violation, supervised release terminated

See the case write-up or previous stories

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Raylan Reano will be free from the federal court system after he serves nine months in prison after he admitted to violating the provisions of his supervised release.

Mug shot of Raylan Reano from the Santa Fe County Detention Center
Raylan Reano

Federal District Judge James Parker sentenced Reano, 27, of Zuni, to serve the nine months concurrently, or at the same time as, a sentence in Zuni tribal court, where Reano pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, intoxication, criminal mischief and drug abuse, according to court records.

Reano admitted to violating the conditions of his supervised release, including that he failed to report at a halfway house as ordered and committed more crimes while he was on release, during the Dec. 4, 2020 hearing, according to the minutes.

After Reano serves those nine months, he will be released from the supervised release he was on after serving a two-year sentence for killing his girlfriend in a drunk-driving crash.

Reano killed his girlfriend, Nicky Chavez, 26, in a drunk driving crash on Oct. 23, 2016. Parker sentenced him to two years on March 21, 2019 followed by three years of supervised release, after he previously pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a sentence served at the same time as multiple tribal sentences.

It is unclear from court records why Reano will be released early from his sentence of three years supervised release.

During the Dec. 4, 2020 hearing, federal prosecutor Sarah Mease asked that Reano be placed on supervised release. The minutes do not document what his attorney, Aric Elsenheimer, asked of the judge.

Reano’s issues with supervised release started the day the day he got out of prison, Jan. 3, 2020, after he admitted to using methamphetamine and Suboxone and he tested positive for drugs on Jan. 3, 4 and 7, 2020, Probation officer Christopher Fiedler wrote in a petition for a revocation of his supervised release filed March 25, 2020. In March, he was ordered to report to a halfway house, which he did not.

On Aug. 25, 2020, Parker ordered Reano remanded to prison for five months after he admitted to violating the conditions of his release by failing to follow the instructions of his probation officer, failing to reside at a halfway-house after his release and taking drugs, according to a judgement signed by Parker.

After he was released a second time, his probation officer again asked his supervised release be revoked in September after he failed, again, to report to a halfway house. Reano was subsequently arrested on Oct. 28, 2020 and held without bail pending the Dec. 4, 2020 hearing.

The case

According court documents and an autopsy report, on Oct. 23, 2016, Reano, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.365, drove off State Road 53, overcorrected and flipped, ejecting Chavez, killing her.

According to a response to a sentencing memorandum by Mease, witnesses said Reano was driving recklessly and at a “high rate of speed” when he lost control of his car and it rolled. He had a blood-alcohol content level, or BAC, of 0.365, over four times the legal limit of 0.08, and in the area of possible alcohol poisoning, which Mease described as “shockingly high.”

On Nov. 28, 2017, over a year after Raylan Reano killed Chavez, a federal grand jury indicted him on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter. The case was filed with the federal court on Dec. 5, 2017.

On March 23, 2018, just three months after his indictment, Reano pleaded guilty to a single charge of involuntary manslaughter, a deal prepared by prosecutor Sarah Mease and accepted by federal Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen.

There was no agreement in the plea as to sentence, but prosecutors agreed that the judge should reduce Reano sentence by six months because of his six-month sentence in tribal court for killing Chavez, according to the plea.

On March 21, 2019, District Judge James Parker sentenced Reano to two years, the minimum suggested for a level I criminal history after six months was subtracted for time served in tribal jail, and allowed him to serve the sentence at the same time as his convictions in tribal court. That was to be followed by supervised probation for three years, according to the court docket.

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Maroquez Clah receives 3-year sentence for fatal crash in San Juan County

  • Judge Kea Riggs sentenced Maroquez Clah to just over 3 years for the fatal DWI crash
  • Clah pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter without a plea deal

See the case write-up or read more stories about this case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Maroquez Clah, 28, of Red Rock, Ariz., received a sentence just over three years for killing Darrell Chavez, 22, in a 2019 drunk driving crash near Mitten Rock, after he pleaded guilty without a plea deal to involuntary manslaughter.

District Judge Kea Riggs ordered Clah,  serve three years on supervised release after he is released from prison when she sentenced him on Dec. 15, 2020, according to minutes from the hearing. He must also pay $4,500 in restitution.

Mitten Rock, off of Navajo Route 13 (Indian Services Route 13), New Mexico. Photo by James St. John/Flickr. CC-BY

Chavez’s father, Kinsey Chavez, addressed the judge through a Navajo interpreter, but what he said is not memorialized in the minutes. Clah also made a statement to the judge.

Riggs gave him two days to turn himself in to begin serving his sentence, according to the minutes.

What sentence Clah’s attorney, Emily Carey, argued for, or what sentence federal prosecutor Novaline Wilson asked for, is unknown as the minutes do not memorialize either of their stances.

No sentencing memorandums appear in the court docket either, although the docket is missing eight entries between when Clah pleaded guilty (entry 37) and the entry of judgement (entry 52)in the case.

Improperly sealed documents appear to be a problem in New Mexico’s federal court, as outlined by Jeff Proctor, writing in New Mexico In Depth. He found a pattern and practice by prosecutors and public defenders to improperly seal documents in federal criminal cases, contrary to local and federal rules on sealing procedures.

Clah had been on pre-trial release pending sentencing in Red Rock, Ariz., where he was taking care of his ailing parents during the pandemic. Magistrate Judge Paul Briones initially ordered Clah stay at a halfway house, despite his need for surgery, medical treatments and his ailing parents needing help. Wilson argued that Clah should have been held without bail indefinitely, over the objections of the probation officer assigned to the case.. Carey appealed Briones’ order to Riggs, who ordered him released on April 20, 2020.

A federal grand jury indicted Clah on the involuntary manslaughter charge on Nov. 25, 2019. It was not entered into the federal court system until Dec. 3, 2019. Clah was not arrested until Feb. 14, 2020. His arrest warrant return was not entered into the online court system.

The crash

FBI Agent Lancy Roundy wrote in a search warrant filed for Clah’s truck on Sept. 4, 2019, that Clah told federal investigators, while in the hospital, he had been drinking alcohol throughout the day prior to driving from Farmington to his home in Red Valley, Arizona. Chavez is referred to as “John Doe” in court records.

“Clah recalled John Doe being a passenger of his vehicle at some point during the drive,” Roundy wrote. “Clah admitted to drinking vodka approximately six hours prior to driving his vehicle home and remembered losing control of the vehicle while driving approximately 70 miles per hour before the vehicle rolled several times.”

Roundy wrote that, according to Clah’s hospital records from his treatment after the crash, his blood-alcohol content was 0.258, over three times the legal limit of 0.08.

According to Chavez’s autopsy report, he was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the truck during the crash.

Continue reading “Maroquez Clah receives 3-year sentence for fatal crash in San Juan County”

Jodie Martinez sentenced to 2 years for 2019 Zuni crash that killed son, injured woman

  • Judge Kea Riggs sentenced Jodie Martinez to the maximum, two years, under a plea deal she accepted
  • Jodie Martinez pleaded guilty for a crash she caused, killing her son and severely injured a woman on July 6, 2019
  • Prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez gave her a plea deal for a sentence of 18 months to 2 years
  • Ruiz-Velez wanted two years while the defense asked for 18 months, a difference of six months
  • After being released to attend her son’s funeral, she tested positive for methamphetamine when she came back to the jail, prosecutors wrote
  • She smuggled meth back into the jail after the furlough for the funeral, prosecutors wrote

See the case write-up or read past stories on this case

ZUNI, N.M. — Jodie Martinez received a two-year sentence, followed by supervised release for three years, for killing her 9-year-old son and severely injuring a woman in a drug-related head-on crash in 2019.

Federal District Judge Kea Riggs accepted the binding plea deal, proffered by prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez, that set Martinez’s sentence at 18 months to two years, for aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and dropped a charge of involuntary manslaughter for killing her son.

Mug shot of Jodie Martinez from the Santa Fe County Detention Center
Jodie Martinez/Santa Fe County Detention Center

Riggs sentenced Martinez, 33, of Zuni, during a virtual hearing, Nov. 20, 2020, and said there will be a “zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse” during her three years of supervised release following her release from person, according to a minutes sheet.

The minutes do not indicate if any victims, either a woman only identified as “Mrs. Sweeney,” or 9-year-old Christian Molina‘s father, Samuel Molina, said anything during the sentencing hearing. Samuel Molina sued Martinez over the life insurance payout.

Although Martinez will get credit for the 304 days she spent in jail since she was charged in federal court, she will not receive credit for the 91 days she spent in a tribal jail, Riggs ordered.

Ruiz-Velez had been asking for two years, the maximum allowed in a plea deal she offered. Martinez’s defense attorney, Mallory Gagan, is asking for the minimum sentence under the deal, 18 months, even though prosecutors wrote Martinez smuggled methamphetamine into a jail following a furlough to attend her son’s funeral and use of methamphetamine while on furlough from jail. Martinez also has a pending case of vehicle embezzlement in state court in Santa Fe.

On Aug. 3, 2020, Martinez pleaded guilty to a single charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Federal Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing accepted the plea but deferred final acceptance until sentencing in front of a district court judge. Prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez dropped a second charge, of involuntary manslaughter, brought by the grand jury that indicted her, despite her continued drug use after her arrest and apparent smuggling of drugs into the tribal jail.

Acceptance of the plea, and dropping the charge of involuntary manslaughter, was a decision left up to Riggs, who accepted it.

Sentencing memos

In her sentencing memorandum, Ruiz-Velez wrote there were evidentiary issues with the case. While prosecutors allege Martinez was high on methamphetamine when she crashed, and she tested positive for the drug after she crashed, she never admitted to getting high the day of the crash, four days before. She wrote:

“The drug test revealed that Defendant had methamphetamine in her system. Id. According to investigative reports, ‘the swabs used to drug test [Defendant] were sent to the Las Cruces Forensic Laboratory weeks later in an effort to determine the amount of methamphetamine [Defendant] had in her system.’ DBN 749. The swab samples were analyzed, but there were no ‘indications of any drug on them.’ DBN 751. However, the fact that drugs could not be identified ‘does not mean that no drugs were present,’ it is just that the forensic scientist could not ‘detect them.’ DBN 750. Although the evidence shows that Defendant was under the influence of methamphetamine, the level of methamphetamine in Defendant’s system could not be detected.”

Martinez brought methamphetamine back into the Zuni tribal jail after she was released to attend her son’s funeral. She tested positive for methamphetamine prior to being released and three days later when she returned, Ruiz-Velez wrote.

She also smuggled methamphetamine into the jail, later found wrapped in a soap wrapper, Ruiz-Velez wrote.

Ruiz-Velez wrote a two-year sentence is appropriate because it would fall within the normal sentencing guidelines for the charge she pleaded guilty to: assault resulting in serious bodily injury, even though if she had pleaded to involuntary manslaughter or both charges, her sentence guideline would be higher.

Martinez’s attorney, Gagan, is asking for the minimum sentence, 18 months, and that Martinez not be required to go into in-patient drug rehabilitation.

Martinez started work at the Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority in 2007 and stayed for 10 years and even gave a TED talk about the restoration of the pueblo buildings. In 2017, she lost her job due to “tribal politics, — certain powerful individuals in the community did not want her, not an enrolled tribal member, to have the position,” Gagan wrote.

After she lost her job, her marriage “crumbled” and she left her children with her husband and moved in with her cousin and started using cocaine, and then methamphetamine.

“She just never quite got back on her feet,” Gagan wrote.

Sentencing guidelines

If Martinez had pleaded to the charge of involuntary manslaughter, been found guilty of it, or pleaded to both involuntary manslaughter and the assault charge, her sentencing guidelines would have put her sentence at a lot longer than just two years.

The sentencing guidelines put involuntary manslaughter at a “base level” of 22. A plea deal reduces that by three points, bringing what would have been her level down to 19.

Involuntary manslaughter involving a the reckless operation of a means of transportation carries a higher base level than other forms of involuntary manslaughter.

With a sentence range of 19, the guidelines put her sentence at 2 1/2 to 3 years, assuming little or no criminal history.

Martinez has a pending case in Santa Fe District Court on a charge of embezzlement of a motor vehicle.

The crash

See more details of the crash in the case write-up

According to the plea deal and an affidavit for a search warrant, Martinez crashed head-on into car driving the opposite direction on July 6, 2019, on State Highway 53, outside of Zuni.  A unidentified woman in the other vehicle, a truck, suffered severe injuries and medics flew her to Albuquerque for treatment. When Zuni Police Department officers arrived at the crash, Molina was dead and either lying next to her Ford Explorer or being held by her.

The unidentified woman suffered a fractured vertebrae, multiple rib fractures and other “bone fractures and injuries,” according to the plea.

Martinez told the officers who responded to the crash that she fell asleep at the wheel. In a subsequent interrogation, she told agents that her cell phone fell, she reached down to pick it up and that’s when she crashed. In an interview with Agent David Loos, both Martinez and her boyfriend allegedly admitted to using methamphetamine at least four days before the accident.

Continue reading “Jodie Martinez sentenced to 2 years for 2019 Zuni crash that killed son, injured woman”

Plea: 18 to 24 months for Zuni woman who killed son in meth-related crash

Jodie Martinez will receive 18 months to 2 years for killing her son and severely injuring a woman in a likely DWI crash
• The plea, offered by prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez, still has to be accepted by a district judge at sentencing
• Martinez only pleaded guilty to injuring the woman and not to killing her son

See the case write-up

ZUNI, N.M. — A Zuni woman who crashed into a truck, killing her 9-year-old son and severely injuring a woman, will get just 18 months to two years in prison following an agreement with federal prosecutors to limit her sentence.

Jodie Martinez, 33, was indicted for involuntary manslaughter under the theory she was high on a drug, ostensibly methamphetamine, when she crashed into a truck headed in the opposite direction on July 6, 2019. She was also indicted on a charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Her son, Christian Molina, 9, died in the crash.

Jodie Martinez/Santa Fe County Detention Center

On Aug. 3, 2020, Martinez pleaded guilty to a single charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Federal Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing accepted the plea but deferred final acceptance until sentencing in front of a district court judge.

Martinez tested positive for methamphetamine two successive days after the crash, although she did not admit in the plea to using methamphetamine directly before.

Federal prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez put forward the plea and binding agreement as to the sentence.

According to the plea Ruiz-Velez offered, a sentence of 18 months to 2 years is the “appropriate disposition.” It takes into account Martinez’s “acceptance of responsibility” and states her sentence should not be further decreased.

Although Fashing deferred final acceptance of the plea agreement, assuming it is accepted, the sentence of 18 months to 2 years will be binding, pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C).

The entire hearing in front of Fashing, on Aug. 3, took 27 minutes. Minutes of the plea hearing make no mention of how the victims of the crash felt about the binding plea deal.

No sentencing date has been set.

FBI Agent David Loos arrested her on a warrant on Jan. 17, 2020. Federal Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter ordered Martinez held without bail after a first appearance on Jan. 21, 2020 and she waived a detention hearing on Jan. 29, 2020.

She has been held without bail since her Jan. 17, 2020 arrest.

The crash

See more details of the crash in the case write-up

According to the plea deal and an affidavit for a search warrant, Martinez crashed head-on into car driving the opposite direction on July 6, 2019, on State Highway 53, outside of Zuni.  A unidentified woman in the other vehicle, a truck, suffered severe injuries and medics flew her to Albuquerque for treatment. When Zuni Police Department officers arrived at the crash, Molina was dead and either lying next to her Ford Explorer or being held by her.

The unidentified woman suffered a fractured vertebrae, multiple rib fractures and other “bone fractures and injuries,” according to the plea.

Martinez told the officers who responded to the crash that she fell asleep at the wheel. In a subsequent interrogation, she told agents that her cell phone fell, she reached down to pick it up and that’s when she crashed. In an interview with Agent David Loos, both Martinez and her boyfriend allegedly admitted to using methamphetamine at least four days before the accident.

Accepting responsibility

Although Martinez ostensibly took responsibility by taking a plea and admitting to causing her son’s death, she is only pleading guilty to injuring the unidentified woman in the opposing vehicle and the admission of facts does not say why the crash happened, or what caused it. Martinez wrote that she “merged” into the lane for oncoming traffic, crashing into a truck traveling in the opposite direction and as a consequence, Molina died.

The admission of facts outlines most of the narrative in the affidavit for a search warrant including:

  • Martinez told the police officers who first responded that she fell asleep at the wheel
  • Police found methamphetamine in her vehicle
  • She told federal agents, after she was discharged from the hospital, that she used methamphetamine four days prior to the crash
  • She told those agents she was talking to her mother on the phone before the crash, dropped it when she hung up, went to pick it up and when she looked up, she was in the opposing lane
  • She tested positive for methamphetamine on July 7 and July 8, 2019, two and three days after the crash, respectively

Martinez does not write what actually happened, or what actually caused the crash, in the plea deal. Nor did she say what happened in her response to the civil lawsuit filed to make sure she received none of the insurance money from Molina’s death, calling what happened an “error in judgement.”

Insurance settlement

The father of Martinez’s son, Samuel Molina, filed a lawsuit against Martinez over the insurance payout from their son’s death, on Aug. 12, 2020.

Samuel Molina’s attorney, Brian Grayson, wrote in the complaint for declaratory judgement on the wrongful death recovery proceeds.

Samuel Molina, appointed the personal representative for his son’s estate, received a $50,000 settlement from an unspecified insurance policy, according to the complaint. The lawsuit filed in August was to declare that Martinez was not entitled to any of that money.

Martinez “abandoned” Christian Molina under New Mexico law and because she caused his death, she was not entitled to any of the insurance proceeds under the Unlawful Acts Doctrine, Grayson wrote.

In a hand-written response filed Sept. 14, 2020, Martinez wrote that she was not opposed to Samuel Molina receiving the insurance payment for their son’s death.

“I am opposed to signing a document implying that I abandoned our son,” Martinez wrote. “There are statements made in the Declaratory Judgement that are inaccurate and quite frankly false. At the time Samuel and I shared custody through a mutual agreement due to our separation. I was not an absent parent.”

It is not clear what “inaccurate” or “quite frankly false” statements Martinez objected to. The complaint for declaratory judgement makes no mention of custody arrangements.

“Unfortunately, and with my deepest regret, I had an error in judgement which I will have to live with for the rest of my life,” Martinez wrote. “No amount of financial gain will every satisfy the tremendous loss we have experienced.

Martinez wrote she refused to “sign any document implicating the termination of parental rights, the abandonment of my son Christian Molina, or any other demeaning allegations.”

On Sept. 22, 2020, Grayson filed a notice of dismissal with prejudice because “all matters in controversy have been compromised and resolved,” even though Martinez “strongly denies the claims and allegations made in the Complaint for Declaratory Judgement.”

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See the case files on Google Drive or on Document Cloud. Read more stories on this case or peruse the case write-up.

Continue reading “Plea: 18 to 24 months for Zuni woman who killed son in meth-related crash”

Sentencing date set for Arizona man in fatal DWI crash

See the case write-up or read more stories about this case

Update: The sentencing time has been updated to 10:30 a.m.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Arizona man, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for killing his friend in a 2019 drunk driving crash, is set to be sentenced remotely at 10:30 a.m., Dec. 15, 2020.

Mitten Rock, off of Navajo Route 13 (Indian Services Route 13), New Mexico. Photo by James St. John/Flickr

District Judge Kea Riggs is set to sentence Maroquez Clah, 28, of Red Valley, for the DWI crash that killed Darrell Chavez, 22, near Mitten Rock, according to the docket. Clah previously pleaded guilty without a plea agreement in front of Magistrate Judge John Robbenhaar. The maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is eight years.

Riggs previously ordered Clah released to his parents’ home in Red Valley, Ariz., after Magistrate Judge Paul Briones refused to release him, despite his medical needs.

The sentencing hearing will be conducted remotely and is assigned to the Bonito courtroom, numbered 540, according to the docket.

A federal grand jury indicted Clah on a charge of involuntary manslaughter on Nov. 25, 2019 for crashing his truck while drunk near Mitten Rock, killing Chavez. He was not arrested until Feb. 14, 2020.

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Continue reading “Sentencing date set for Arizona man in fatal DWI crash”

Zuni man arrested again after serving five months for absconding

Raylan Reano is back in jail after he allegedly refused to report to a halfway house and was arrested by Zuni tribal police
• He received a two-year sentence for killing his girlfriend in a drunk-driving crash

See the case write-up or previous stories

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Five months after being sent to jail as a sanction for violating his supervised release and a month after being released, Raylan Reano is back in jail after he allegedly failed to report to a halfway house and was arrested by Zuni tribal police.

Reano, 27, of Zuni, was arrested on Oct. 28, 2020. The next day, federal Magistrate Judge Paul Briones ordered Reano held without bail during the release revocation. During the hearing, Reano waived his right to both a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing. Briones found that Reano is a danger to the community and there was a serious risk he would not appear for his next hearing.

Mug shot of Raylan Reano from the Santa Fe County Detention Center
Raylan Reano

Although court documents do not explicitly state when he was released after serving five months in jail, federal probation officer Christopher Fielder filed a petition to revoke Reano’s release on Sept. 11, 2020, after he confirmed, the previous day, that Reano did not go to the halfway house he had been ordered to for the first six months of his supervised release. He listed the sentence revocation range as three to nine months.

On Oct. 5, Fielder filed an amended petition to revoke Reano’s supervised release. Zuni tribal police arrested Reano on Sept. 30 for resisting arrest, intoxication, criminal mischief and drug abuse. He pleaded guilty on Oct 1, 2020, Fielder wrote.

On Oct. 28, Reano was arrested, according to the docket, although it is not clear if he was already in tribal custody.

A final revocation hearing is set for 2 p.m., Dec. 4, 2020, via Zoom.

Reano, 27, killed his girlfriend, Nicky Chavez, 26, in a drunk driving crash on Oct. 23, 2016. Federal District Judge James Parker sentenced him to two years, followed by three years of supervised release, after previously pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a sentence served at the same time as multiple tribal sentences.

Case timeline

According to federal court documents, Reano has repeatedly refused to comply with court instructions and ignored orders to spend the first six months of his release in a halfway house. To read more about the crash, the plea, or the arguments over sentencing, read the case write-up.

  • Oct. 23, 2016: Reano crashes his car while drunk near Ramah, killing girlfriend Nicky Chavez, 26.
  • Nov. 28, 2017: Reano is indicted on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter over a year after killing Chavez.
  • March 23, 2018: Reano pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter and prosecutors agree any sentence should be reduced by six months because of a parallel tribal court conviction.
  • March 21, 2019: A year after Reano pleaded guilty, District Judge James Parker sentences him to two years in prison, the minimum suggested sentence for his criminal history, followed by three years supervised release.
  • Jan. 3, 2020: Reano is released from federal prison.
  • March 16, 2020: Parker grants Probation Officer Christopher Fielder’s request that Reano be ordered into a halfway house for six months after he “admitted to using methamphetamine and Buprenorphine (Suboxone) on January 3, 2020, while still in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, the same day he commenced his term of supervised release.”
  • March 25, 2020: Fielder files a petition for the revocation of Reano’s supervised release, citing the drug use and that Reano went to live at home in Zuni instead of at the halfway house. The federal Bureau of Prisons previously listed him as absconding on March 24.
  • May 18, 2020: Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing allows Reano to remain out of custody when she hears his violation case on May 18. Fielder files an amended petition for a warrant or summons. The warrant is issued the following day.
  • June 18, 2020: Reano is arrested on a warrant and the next day, Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa orders Reano be held without bail.
  • Aug. 25, 2020: Parker sends Reano back to jail for five months after Reano admitted to violating the conditions of his release by failing to follow the instructions of his probation officer, failing to reside at a halfway-house after his release and taking drugs, according to the judgement.
  • Sept. 11, 2020: Fielder files a second petition to revoke Reano’s supervised release after, on the previous day, he confirmed that Reano did not go to the halfway house as he had been required to.
  • Oct. 5, 2020: Fielder files an amended second petition and alleges that, on Sept. 30, Zuni tribal police arrested Reano for resisting arrest, intoxication, criminal mischief and drug abuse. He pleaded guilty on Oct 1, 2020, Fielder wrote.
  • Oct. 28, 2020: Reano is arrested and the following day, Briones orders him held without bail. He also waives his rights to a preliminary and detention hearings.

Continue reading “Zuni man arrested again after serving five months for absconding”

Acoma man sentenced for absconding prior to fatal crash

• Judge Amanda Sanchez Villalobos sentenced Anthony Faustine on a probation violation she previously released him on
• Faustine allegedly fled from police while drunk and crashed, killing Timothy Chino, two days after Villalobos released him on an absconder warrant

See the case write-up or previous stories

GRANTS, N.M. — An Acoma man will serve the remainder of his state sentence for drunk driving while he is held pending trial on a federal charge of second-degree murder that happened two days after a state judge released him on an absconder warrant.

Anthony Faustine

District Judge Amanda Sanchez Villalobos sentenced Anthony Faustine, 40, on Sept. 1, to 417 days after he admitted to violating his probation in the his 2016 DWI 3rd offense and fleeing an officer case. She also ordered him discharged from probation.

Faustine is in federal custody after a federal grand jury indicted him on June 8, 2020, on charges of second-degree murder and assault resulting in serious bodily injury for the crash on April 22, 2020 that, according to tribal court documents, allegedly killed Timothy Chino and severely injured Katrina Juanico.

Villalobos released Faustine, being held on an absconder warrant, on April 20, 2020, two days before he allegedly crashed a car while drunk, killing Chino. He was allegedly fleeing from tribal police officers when he crashed, according to tribal court documents.

He was initially arrested on April 9, 2020 on a bench warrant issued on Dec. 13, 2018, after he failed to appear for a hearing on the absconder allegations already filed against him, as well as a motion to revoke his probation, before Villalobos released him.

On Oct. 7, 2016, Faustine pleaded guilty to aggravated fleeing an officer, DWI third offense and driving on a license revoked for DWI, for an incident on Jan. 14, 2016, according to court documents.

Amanda Sanchez Villalobos

The plea deal, signed by prosecutor Brandon Vigil, gave Faustine a suspended sentence minus the mandatory 97 days he had to serve on the DUI charge. The plea was approved by District Judge Pedro Rael.

The original file in the magistrate case appears has been destroyed.

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Continue reading “Acoma man sentenced for absconding prior to fatal crash”

Arizona man pleads to involuntary manslaughter without deal in DWI killing

Maroquez Clah pleaded guilty without a plea deal
• He faces a maximum sentence of eight years for killing Darrel Chavez, 22

See the case write-up or read more stories about this case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Maroquez Clah pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, Sept. 21, 2020, for killing his friend in a drunk driving crash near Mitten Rock.

Clah, 28, of Red Valley, Ariz., pleaded guilty without a plea agreement and he faces a maximum sentence of eight years for the Aug. 30, 2019 crash that killed Darrell Chavez, 22.

Panoramic photo of Red Valley, Arizona, with no buildings in sight.
Red Valley, about a mile west of the New Mexico state line, 36.5845 -109.0732, Apache County, Arizona, 5/17/2014. Photo by Patrick Alexander/Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA

According to the plea minute sheet, Magistrate Judge John Robbenhaar accepted the plea. Robbenhaar allowed Clah to remain on his current conditions of release. He is living with his parents in Red Valley.

According to a proffer of evidence at trial filed by federal prosecutor Novaline Wilson, Clah acted with “wanton and reckless disregard for human life” when he drove drunk.

No sentencing date has been set.

A grand jury indicted Clah on a charge of involuntary manslaughter on Nov. 25, 2019 for crashing his truck while drunk near Mitten Rock, killing Chavez. He was not arrested until Feb. 14, 2020.  Federal Magistrate Judge Paul Briones released him to a halfway house over the objection of prosecutor Wilson. Briones refused to release him to his home in Red Valley to help his ailing parents amid the coronavirus pandemic. Federal District Court Judge Kea Riggs overruled Briones and ordered him released on April 20, 2020.

Details of the crash

FBI Agent Lancy Roundy wrote in a search warrant filed for Clah’s truck on Sept. 4, 2019, that Clah told federal investigators, while in the hospital, he had been drinking alcohol throughout the day prior to driving from Farmington to his home in Red Valley, Arizona. Chavez is referred to as “John Doe” in court records.

“Clah recalled John Doe being a passenger of his vehicle at some point during the drive,” Roundy wrote. “Clah admitted to drinking vodka approximately six hours prior to driving his vehicle home and remembered losing control of the vehicle while driving approximately 70 miles per hour before the vehicle rolled several times.”

Roundy wrote that, according to Clah’s hospital records from his treatment after the crash, his blood-alcohol content was 0.258, over three times the legal limit of 0.08.

According to Chavez’s autopsy report, he was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the truck during the crash.

Continue reading “Arizona man pleads to involuntary manslaughter without deal in DWI killing”

Acoma man arraigned for killing man in DWI crash after fleeing police

• Police say Anthony Faustine allegedly drunkenly crashed his car after fleeing from police on a dirt road, killing passenger Timothy Chino, on April 22, 2020
• Judge Amanda Sanchez Villalobos released Faustine one day prior after arraigning him on a bench warrant after he didn’t appear at an arraignment on a probation violation from 2018

• Faustine’s original probation violation was for allegedly absconding from probation after pleading guilty to DUI and aggravated fleeing an officer

Read the full case write-up

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 40-year-old Acoma Pueblo man is being held without bail after being arraigned Monday in federal court on a charge of second-degree murder for the death of a man following an alleged drunk driving crash following a police pursuit on April 22, 2020, one day after he was released from jail on a probation violation on a prior charge of aggravated fleeing an officer and drunk driving.

Anthony Faustine

A federal grand jury indicted Anthony Faustine on June 8, 2020, on charges of second-degree murder and assault resulting in serious bodily injury for the crash that, according to tribal court documents, allegedly killed Timothy Chino and severely injured Katrina Juanico.

Federal Magistrate Judge Steven Yarbrough ordered Faustine held without bail, and remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service, during his virtual arraignment, Monday (8/31/2020). Faustine pleaded not guilty and waived a detention hearing.

According to federal court filings, Faustine was being held in the Cibola County Detention Center in Grants prior to his initial appearance on Aug. 27, 2020.

Faustine appears to have been initially jailed, following the crash, after Laguna Pueblo tribal police officer Brandon Mariano charged him in Laguna Pueblo tribal court with homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, aggravated DUI and battery following the April 22, 2020 crash.

Villalobos ordered Faustine released on April 20 after he was arrested earlier that month on a December 2018 bench warrant for his failure to appear at an arraignment for a prior alleged probation violation.

The crash

Mariano wrote in a criminal complaint, filed in Laguna Tribal Court, that a call about a red Suzuki first came to dispatchers at 3:23 p.m., April 22, 2020.

An unknown woman told them the car was swerving on eastbound Interstate-40 and almost hit her car, just before it left on Exit 104, toward State Road 124. Officers were sent to look for the car, he wrote.

Laguna Highway Safety Officer Keith Riley told Mariano that while searching, he talked to a construction foreman on Rainfall Road, Mariano wrote.

“The foreman told HSO Riley that the vehicle which Officers were looking for passed through their work zone and nearly hit a few of the workers while it was passing through,” Mariano wrote. “HSO Riley was also told the vehicle was traveling on Cottonwood Trail, headed toward the Pueblo of Acoma.”

Riley and Laguna Police Department Officer Roslynn Lente found the red Suzuki near the border of Acoma and Laguna on Cottonwood Trail. Riley pulled in front of the car with his emergency lights, exited and told the driver to get out. The driver, later identified as Faustine, allegedly refused, revved the engine and sped away from Riley, Mariano wrote.

Riley “contacted the hood” as it sped off and Lente was “nearly to the vehicle” when Riley told her to stay in her car, as Faustine allegedly sped by her, Mariano wrote.

As the red Suzuki Sidekick sped away, the officers began to pursue it, then Riley called it off because it was on a dirt road, he wrote.

“HSO Riley then said just as he was finished the vehicle drove around a corner and began to roll,” Mariano wrote.

When the pair arrived at the crash scene, Faustine allegedly ran from the vehicle and Riley chased him on foot and told Lente to tend to the other two people in the car, he wrote.

Riley unholstered his stun gun and told Faustine to stop. Faustine fell to the ground and Riley placed him “restraints.” Faustine smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, bloodshot and glassy eyes and could not maintain his balance, Mariano wrote.

The crash ejected the front passenger, Timothy Chino, and pinned him under the vehicle. The other passenger, Katrina Juanico, was in the back seat and airlifted from the scene, he wrote.

While one medic, Isaac Herrera, tried to get Faustine’s blood pressure, Faustine allegedly tried to bit him. Faustine was eventually transported by ambulance for his injuries, Mariano wrote.

Mariano wrote he found Bud Light beer cans from the “beginning to the end of the crash,” as well as two bottles of vodka, he wrote.

Probation violations

On April 20, 2020, District Court Judge Amanda Sanchez Villalobos ordered Faustine released from jail after arraigning him on a bench warrant issued on Dec. 13, 2018 after he failed to appear for his arraignment on the original probation violation.

Amanda Sanchez Villalobos

He had been in custody since April 9, 2020, when the Isleta Police Department arrested him on the warrant.

Probation Officer Eric Barela wrote in a probation report dated Oct. 25, 2018 that Faustine was sentenced to three-and-a-half years of supervised probation on Oct. 6, 2016, on the DUI third offense and aggravated fleeing an officer charges.

“Since being sentenced Probationer Faustine has completed sanctions of 3 days and 7 days in custody due to violations of Reporting and Alcohol,” Barela wrote. “Probationer Faustine has shown by calling Cordant and failing to report for UA’s that he understands that he is violating his probation and continues to disreguard (sic) the orders of this court and his orders of probation.”

Barela wrote in the 2018 report that Faustine’s convictions, along with his failure to report and to complete drug and alcohol tests, meant he was a danger to the community.

“Probationer Faustine is now and (sic) ABSCONDER from supervision and has proven that he does not take probation serious and is not a good candidate for supervised probation,” Barela wrote.

Barela wrote he was asking that the prosecutor file a motion to revoke his probation and sentence him to the remainder of his sentence, which would have had him in jail until June 4, 2020.

Prosecutor Sherry Thompson filed a motion to revoke Faustine’s probation on Nov. 15, 2018. She included the original plea deal, signed by prosecutor Brandon Vigil, which gave Faustine a suspended sentence minus the mandatory 97 days he had to serve on the DUI charge. The plea was approved by District Judge Pedro Rael.

When he was supposed to be arraigned on the probation violation charges, he never showed up, leading to the Dec. 13, 2018 bench warrant, eventually served on April 9, 2020, by the Isleta Police Department, according to court records.

After Faustine was arraigned on April 20, 2020, Barela issued a violation report on May 1, 2020, after Faustine failed to report for probation, followed by another on May 5. Sanchez Villalobos issued a bench warrant on May 6. It appears he did not know about the crash until, May 13, when he received a notification of arrest for Faustine. It listed him as in the Laguna jail.

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Continue reading “Acoma man arraigned for killing man in DWI crash after fleeing police”

Zuni man sentenced to 5 months for probation violation

Raylan Reano waived an evidentiary hearing
• District Judge James Parker ordered him back to prison for five months
• Reano killed girlfriend Nicky Chavez in a drunk driving crash in 2016

See the case write-up

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Raylan Reano will spend the next five months in prison after a judge ordered him back, Aug. 25, 2020, after he was initially released on supervised probation after serving a two-year sentence for killing his girlfriend in a drunk driving crash.

Mug shot of Raylan Reano from the Santa Fe County Detention Center
Raylan Reano

Reano, 27, admitted to violating the conditions of his release by failing to follow the instructions of his probation officer, failing to reside at a halfway-house after his release and taking drugs, according to a judgement signed by District Judge James Parker.

Reano killed his girlfriend, Nicky Chavez, 26, in a drunk driving crash on Oct. 23, 2016. He received a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Reano faced a maximum sentence of nine additional months for the probation violations, according to federal court documents.

Reano pleaded guilty on March 13, 2018, to a single count of involuntary manslaughter and a year later, Parker sentenced Reano to two years in federal prison, to be served at the same time as three tribal sentences, followed by supervised release for three years. One of those tribal sentences was for escaping from jail.

Reano’s probation officer,  Christopher Fiedler, reported problems with Reano as soon as he was initially released, on Jan. 3, 2020, and that Reano admitted to using drugs before even leaving prison, according to court documents.

In the original petition filed March 25, 2020, Fielder alleged Reano admitted to using methamphetamine and Suboxone and he tested positive for drugs on Jan. 3, 4 and 7, 2020.

In the second amended petition filed May 18, 2020, Fiedler wrote Reano tested positive for cocaine on March 20, 2020 and admitted to using cocaine in a subsequent interview. A drug testing sweat patch, applied on April 17, showed positive results for THC, the chemical in marijuana.

The case

To read more about the crash, the plea, or the arguments over sentencing, please read the case write-up.

According court documents and an autopsy report, on Oct. 23, 2016, Reano, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.365, drove off State Road 53, overcorrected and flipped, ejecting Chavez, killing her.

According to a response to a sentencing memorandum by prosecutor Sarah Mease, witnesses said Reano was driving recklessly and at a “high rate of speed” when he lost control of his car and it rolled. He had a blood-alcohol content level, or BAC, of 0.365, over four times the legal limit of 0.08, and in the area of possible alcohol poisoning, which Mease described as “shockingly high.”

Continue reading “Zuni man sentenced to 5 months for probation violation”

Zuni man held without bail pending probation revocation hearing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 27-year-old Zuni man is being held without bail pending a probation revocation hearing after being arrested on June 18, 2020.

Mug shot of Raylan Reano from the Santa Fe County Detention Center
Raylan Reano

Raylan Reano killed his girlfriend, Nicky Chavez, 26, in a drunk driving crash on Oct. 23, 2016. He received a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

After an initial probation revocation hearing on May 18, 2020, Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing set a tentative new hearing for May 22. The same day as the initial hearing, Federal probation officer Christopher Fiedler filed a second amended petition for the revocation of Reano’s probation. It was not until June 18 that federal agents arrested Reano on a warrant, dated May 19.

In the original petition filed March 25, 2020, Fielder alleged Reano admitted to using methamphetamine and Suboxone and he tested positive for drugs on Jan. 3, 4 and 7, 2020. He used that as a basis to request Reano have a special condition added to his sentence that he be required to live at a “residential reentry center” for up to six months. On March 16, 2020, District Judge James Parker, who initially sentenced him, added the special condition to Reano’s sentence.

In the second amended petition, Fiedler wrote Reano tested positive for cocaine on March 20, 2020 and admitted to using cocaine in a subsequent interview. A drug testing sweat patch, applied on April 17, showed positive results for THC, the chemical in marijuana.

Raylan Reano could spend up to another nine months in prison if his release is revoked, according to federal court documents.

On June 19, at a hearing on his revocation, Reano waived a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing.

A revocation hearing is set for 2 p.m., Aug. 25, via Zoom, in front of Parker.

Reano pleaded guilty on March 13, 2018, to a single count of involuntary manslaughter and a year later, Parker sentenced Reano to two years in federal prison, to be served at the same time as three tribal sentences, followed by supervised release for three years. One of those tribal sentences was for escaping from jail.

According court documents and an autopsy report, on Oct. 23, 2016, Reano, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.365, drove off State Road 53, overcorrected and flipped, ejecting Chavez, killing her.

To read more about the crash, the plea, or the arguments over sentencing, please read the case write-up.

Continue reading “Zuni man held without bail pending probation revocation hearing”