Christian Beard filed the lawsuit in Farmington District Court on April 24, 2020, naming accused killer Anthony Wagon, 23, relatives Hershell Wagon and Tina Wagon and insurance companies MGA Insurance Company and Gainsco Insurance Company.
In a hand-written motion on May 14, 2020, Weaver, 27, of Albuquerque, noted she has no prior convictions and, since being sent to prison, has not received any discipline.
“Further, I have been enrolled in multiple programs starting with Matrix in Santa Fe County Jail, Sober Living shortly after my transfer to Springer Womens Facility, and most recently with the completion of the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program on the 27th of March, 2020,” Weaver wrote.
Attached to the motion are a series of certificates noting the programs she completed.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, many of Francis’s family members attended the sentencing hearing, including the mother of Francis’ 6-year-old daughter, who spoke of her daughter’s struggles with her father’s death.
Most of Francis’ relatives asked for the maximum sentence, 15 years, while Kit Francis Sr. asked for her to “do enough time so that she gets it and understands,” according to the Albuquerque Journal.
On July 27, 2018, a jury found Ameer, 26, guilty of felony murder and armed robbery, although the latter charge was dropped as the predicate felony for felony murder. The jury acquitted him on a charge of tampering with evidence.
According to court documents, victim Aaron Sieben and Ameer allegedly got into some kind of argument while Sieben was in his truck on March 19, 2017, parked at a Circle K gas station in Albuquerque.
After Ameer allegedly fled from Sieben, Sieben pursued him, leading to a fist fight. As the fight progressed, Ameer allegedly produced a knife and stabbed Sieben two to three times. After stabbing Sieben, Ameer allegedly took his wallet. Sieben died at the scene and Ameer allegedly fled, only to be arrested shortly thereafter.
Although four issues were initially raised in a statement of issues for Ameer’s automatic appeal to the Supreme Court, in the June 10, 2019 brief in chief, Assistant Appellate Defender Steven Forsberg, with the Law Office of the Public Defender, only challenged two issues: the judge not suppressing Ameer’s statement to the police and the lack of a self-defense instruction.
In challenging the unsuppressed statement, Forsberg wrote that the Flores used the wrong legal standard to determine if it needed to be suppressed.
A Miranda rights waiver has to be both voluntary and knowing and intelligent, but Flores stated she believed police coercion was required to suppress the statement. However, that is only required to find if a statement was given voluntarily; a statement can still fail to meet the knowing and intelligent threshold in the absence of coercion, Forsberg wrote.
He wrote that Ameer was “in the grips of severe mental illness” when he made the waiver.
The statement was also the only evidence Ameer was the initial aggressor. When the defense argued for a self-defense instruction, the judge said she could not discount his statement to police. Forsberg wrote:
None of the eyewitnesses saw what caused Ameer to flee from Mr. Sieben’s truck while Mr. Sieben chased him, but Ameer in his statement said he had held a knife to Mr. Sieben. None of the witnesses could provide a motive for those events, until Mr. Muhammad said during his statement, according to the detective, “that he wanted to get meth; to get high; to kill himself, and he made statements that he killed him because he did not want to continue to ask people for money.” [8 Tr. 23:24-25:15] Due to his mental state, Ameer’ s statements were not knowing (let alone reliable).
When the defense was arguing for a self-defense instruction, the trial court judge emphasized the importance of the statement: “I think the problem for me is you really want me to discount the Defendant’s statement, and I can’t” [8 Tr. 56:16-56:18] Ameer’s unknowing statement kneecapped any defense he might have had.
Forsberg wrote that the Supreme Court should either reverse his conviction and remand for a re-trial, with the statement suppressed, or remand the case to the District Court for a new hearing on the suppression issue.
Should the trial court, on remand, find the statement unknowing, then a new trial would be required. If, on the other hand, the trial court held that the statement was knowing and intelligent, then Mr. Muhammad could appeal that decision to this Court.
In the answer brief for the prosecution, filed June 20, 2019, Assistant Attorney General Maris Veidemanis wrote that, although Ameer was experiencing delusions during the police interrogation, he was “coherent and articulate” and that the defense presented no information that Ameer did not understand the Miranda warning.
If there had been an error, it wouldn’t have mattered because there was ample evidence to convict him of felony murder, predicated on armed robbery, Veidemanis wrote.
As to the self-defense instruction, Veidemanis wrote that really, the Flores’ decision was based on the lack of evidence that Ameer had been attacked and pointed to State v Abeyta, which states that self defense must be reasonable in relation to the threat posed and that excessive force in self defense “renders the entire action unlawful.”
On July 10, 2019, Forsberg filed a reply brief and focused on Veidemanis’ emphasis on the voluntariness of Ameer’s statement. He wrote that the trial court should be ordered to consider evidence of Ameer’s mental state in determining if he knowingly and intelligently waived his rights.
He wrote that Veidemanis’ claims that the case could have stood without his statement was contradicted by the trial prosecutor, who fought the suppression motion and highlighted the statement during his closing arguments.
“The inadequacy of the advisement of rights requires the exclusion from use at trial of Defendant’s statement to Detective Solomon and whether Defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his rights has become moot,” Marsh wrote.
However, his interview with Stanton, Griggs and Herrera was acceptable because of a Miranda warning.
“Defendant’s statements to Farmington Police Detectives Stanton, Griggs, or Herrera are not excluded from use at trial in this matter to the extent Defendant would have them excluded for the failure to properly Mirandize Defendant,” Marsh wrote.
According to the minutes, U.S. Marshal Deputy G. McCoy “provides information re: COVID-19 cases, status of employee’s health at Cibola and outlines medical treatment defendants receive upon entry/release from center.”
Jaros brought one exhibit, entered onto the record, but it was uploaded to PACER and the minutes do not state what it was.
At the end of the 45-minute hearing, District Judge Judith Herrera ordered Peshlakai continue to be held as a danger to the community, according to the minutes.
“Court finds defendant has not shown there is an elevated risk to him in contracting COVID-19, outlines reasons and denies request for release,” the minutes state. “Ms. Jaros to submit order”
Peshlakai allegedly ran down 20-year-old Dakota Whitehat on July 13, 2018. Whitehat was in a vehicle that stopped because Peshlakai was fighting with his wife on the side of the road and, according to one report, screaming for help, according to court documents. Read more about the case in the write-up.
• Prosecutor John Duran initially dismissed murder charges after he missed a series of deadlines • Judge Brett Loveless overruled the order of the previous judge in the case to allow the case to continue, even though the case has been going on for over three years • Scott Wade Bachicha is now facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After years of delays that lead to an initial dismissal of a murder charge, an Albuquerque man will have to wait even longer for his day in court after a judge ordered a stay in his case while prosecutors appeal a dismissal of a firearms enhancement.
“Inefficiencies may result from ruling on Defendant’s pending motions as they may dispose of the case without approval from or knowledge of the appellate court,” Loveless wrote. “This Court will not rule on those matters while the appeal is pending.”
Among the motions that are now stayed pending the appeal is a speedy trial motion Maestas filed on Jan. 10, 2020.
“In this case, the nearly three-year delay from Mr. Bachicha’s arrest on April 16, 2017 and charging to the present trial setting of March 26, 2020 (total: 1,066 days) is simply unconstitutional,” he wrote.
• Raylan Reano killed girlfriend Nicky Chavez in a 2016 crash outside Ramah • Judge James Parker gave Reano a 2-year sentence for killing Chavez, a mother of two • Reano allegedly violated his probation, after release, by absconding
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Probation officers have requested a warrant for a Raylan Reano, 27, of Zuni, after he allegedly repeatedly violated the conditions of his supervised release and absconded after serving a federal prison sentence for killing his 26-year-old girlfriend Nicky Chavez in 2016.
Raylan Reano could spend up to another nine months in prison if his release is revoked, according to federal court documents. Reano pleaded guilty on March 13, 2018, to a single count of involuntary manslaughter and a year later, federal District Judge James Parkersentenced 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.
Federal probation officer Christopher Fiedler alleged Reano admitted to using methamphetamine and Suboxone and he tested positive for drugs on Jan. 3, 4 and 7, 2020, he wrote in a petition for a revocation of his supervised release filed March 25, 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, Parker added the special condition to Reano’s sentence.
“This was in response to the defendant failing to comply with his substance abuse treatment plan,” he wrote.
Neither the request nor the condition appear on the public docket and appear to have been sealed. There is no documentation requesting they be sealed or indication how, or why, the sealing circumvented the normal rules for court filings.
Fiedler’s March 25, 2020 petition alleged that Reano didn’t call to schedule his assessment appointment for the reentry program on March 23, as ordered. He wrote:
“On March 24, 2020, this officer received notification from staff at Diersen Charities Residential Reentry Center that the defendant left their facility without permission and was considered an absconder. Later that same day, the defendant contacted this officer by phone and confirmed that he decided to leave the residential reentry center and returned back to his mother’s residence in Zuni, New Mexico.”
Fiedler wrote that the revocation range is three to nine months.
Instead of a warrant, Reano was issued a summons to appear on a revocation hearing which, after being pushed off, was set for May 18, 2020.
During that hearing in front of Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing, Mease requested Reano be arrested, Elsenheimer requested he remain free and probation said that a second amended petition was filed and a warrant was requested, according to the minutes.
The hearing was tentatively moved to May 22, 2020 but no further filings appear in the court record after May 18, 2020. The minutes do not state if Reano was ordered detained or allowed to remain free.
VADO, N.M. —State Police are looking for the driver of a 1998 tan Chevrolet S-10 truck after the driver allegedly crashed into a motorcyclist, killing him, on May 14, and then fled the scene in Vado, south of Las Cruces.
Lt. Mark Soriano wrote in a press release the rider, Guy Hanslin, 54, of Mesquiete, died at the scene, at 10581 Los Alturas Street.
“The initial investigation shows a black 2012 Harley Davidson was traveling north on Las Alturas Street,” Soriano wrote. “The driver of a tan 1998 Chevrolet S-10 truck was traveling south on Las Alturas, and for reason unknown turned left striking the Harley Davidson head-on.”
Officers found the truck abandoned at a house in Mesquiete, but are still looking for the driver, he wrote.
Soriano wrote that anyone with information should call State Police at 575-382-2500, option 1.
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Jansen Peshlakai is asking a federal judge to release him to a halfway-house pending trial because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Peshlakai allegedly ran down 20-year-old Dakota Whitehat on July 13, 2018. Whitehat was in a vehicle that stopped because Peshlakai was fighting with his wife on the side of the road and, according to one report, screaming for help, according to court documents.
Peshlakai’s competency to stand trial was an issue from the start of the case and he was found not competent on June 14, 2019, before being rehabilitated and found competent on March 20, 2020, his attorney, Edward Bustamante, wrote in a motion for his release.
“Jansen Peshlakai is an at risk detainee due to his permanent closed head injury and his course of medications that make him vulnerable to any health threat while detained,” Bustamante wrote.
He asked that his client be released to his daughter, Jennifer Peshlakai, in Oklahoma, or his mother, in Churchrock.
Prosecutor Allison Jaros wrote in a response, dated April 23, 2020, that Bustamante did not argue that his client is no longer a flight risk or a danger to the community and that the pandemic would not make it less likely he would violate court orders and drink or harm others if released from custody.
“Defendant’s mental condition has improved since his incarceration, likely due to his forced sobriety,” Jaros wrote.
According to Peshlakai’s own doctor, he requires “24/7” supervision for safety, food preparation, medication administration and assistance with other basic daily activities, she wrote.
“The COVID-19 pandemic simply has no bearing on whether conditions of release can reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance in court and the safety of the community,” Jaros wrote.
She wrote that Peshlakai is also not particularly at risk from the coronavirus, citing a New York case where a man with dementia and a history of strokes and heart attacks was denied pre-trial release during the pandemic.
“It would be pure speculation for the Court to presume that Defendant’s underlying conditions pose a greater risk to his safety than if he was released back into the public, where he could resume drinking,” Jaros wrote.
She wrote that when he was arrested, he also had three outstanding warrants. One was a New Mexico probation violation case, although she did not specify if it was federally issued or a state case, and two for failing to appear in court in Oklahoma.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal prosecutor is asking a judge to impose a life sentence on the Dulce man who beat, chopped, stabbed and bound his cousin before locking him in a closet to die of asphyxiation, starvation or dehydration.
Quintana and Bettelyoun admitted to torturing Travis Howland, 28, before binding his hands and feet and leaving him, naked, in a closet to die on Feb. 2, 2018 in Quintana’s house, according to court records.
Federal prosecutor Joseph Spindle filed a sentencing memorandum/motion for an upward departure in Quintana’s case on April 2, 2020, asking that he receive a life sentence. Spindle wrote he wants six points added to Quintana’s sentencing guideline, to put him at an offense level of 43, where the only suggested sentence is life, regardless of criminal history.
“Defendant’s conduct was unusually heinous, cruel, brutal, and degrading to the victim, warranting the imposition of a six-level upward departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K2.8,” Spindle wrote.
The extreme conduct guideline Spindle referenced is for “torture of a victim, gratuitous infliction of injury, or prolonging of pain or humiliation.”
Spindle wrote that Quintana’s torture of Howland encompassed three phases.
“He beat him with a flashlight, burned him with a lighter, cut him with a machete, and bound him with a cord,” he wrote. “Doe suffered three types of trauma, blunt, sharp, and compressional.”
Quintana allegedly forced Quintana to sodomize himself with a flashlight and tortured him in three separate rooms before leaving him bound in a closet “where he may have painfully surrounded to starvation, asphyxiation, or dehydration,” Spindle wrote.
Although Spindle did not write what Quintana’s sentence guideline number was, if it took a full six points to get to 43, the highest number, which carries a suggested sentence of life, his number could have been 37. With no criminal history points, the sentencing guidelines suggest a sentence of 17 to 22 years. With the maximum number of criminal history points, and a guideline of 37, the sentence is 30 years to life.
“Coupled with a criminal history category of I, Defendant’s adjusted guidelines range would be imprisonment for life,” he wrote.
Below is the federal sentencing table, from levels 33 to 43, the highest level.
Quintana also has an “abysmal” criminal history that warranted a higher sentence, Spindle wrote.
“In less than ten years, Defendant has been charged nine times,” Spindle wrote. “While none of his previous conduct was even close to the brutality involved in this case, several times his convictions were for violent crimes. At least five of the crimes appeared to victimize women, and at least one involved confinement of the victim in his home.”
In his presentence report and the calculation of his offense level, he did not receive points for his criminal history, Spindle wrote.
Quintana allegedly wanted Howland to suffer before he did by inflicting pain, humiliation and subjecting his sister to the sight of his decomposing body, Spindle wrote.
“A sentence within the guidelines would not adequately reflect the seriousness of this type of sadistic behavior and would signal to the community that a brutal torture is no different from an isolated shooting. But there is a difference ― a huge difference. Doe’s death was not quick and painless. He died after being beaten, tied up, and sodomized.”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Twin Lakes woman pleaded guilty, March 16, 2020, to voluntary manslaughter and a firearm enhancement for shooting and killing her sister-in-law with an AR-15 in April 2019.
Trudy Martinez, 29, of Twin Lakes, will spend at least 10 years in prison for killing Cornelia McCabe, 36, her sister-in-law. She is identified in court documents as C.M.
Martinez pleaded guilty in front of federal Magistrate Judge Paul Briones who deferred acceptance of the plea to the district judge sentencing her in the case, according to the minutes.
When she was first arrested, Federal Bureau of Investigations agents charged her with an open count of murder.
Federal prosecutor Thomas Aliberti signed the plea deal and filed the criminal information charging her with voluntary manslaughter and the firearm enhancement. Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years while the firearm enhancement carries a minimum 10-year sentence.
One of McCabe’s children told investigators she witnessed her mother’s killing and that Martinez first pushed her mother before going back to her truck to retrieve an AR-15 carbine, which she then loaded in the house, FBI Agent Jeffrey Wright wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant. McCabe is referred to as “Jane Doe” in his affidavit.
“DOE attempted to take the rifle away from Martinez,” Wright wrote. “As DOE approached MARTINEZ at the entrance to the Hogan, MARTINEZ pointed the rifle at DOE and fired the weapon two times. The first round missed DOE, but the second round struck DOE in the abdomen, after which DOE fell to the floor.”
According to court records, Martinez allegedly crashed head-on into car driving the opposite direction on July 6, 2019, on State Highway 53, outside of Zuni, within the boundaries of the pueblo. A woman in the other vehicle, a truck, suffered severe injuries and medics flew her to Albuquerque for treatment. Martinez’s son died following the crash but his age is not listed in court documents and in the indictment, he is referred to as John Doe.
The indictment alleges Martinez was under the influence of drugs when she crashed and a federal search warrant alleges she a urine test she took, following the crash, was positive for methamphetamine.
She first appeared in federal court in Albuquerque on Jan. 21, 2020, where she was ordered held without bail pending a detention hearing by federal Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter. Federal public defender Mallory Gagan was appointed to the case and Ritter arraigned her on Jan. 22, 2020. Martinez pleaded not guilty. She does not appear to have ever been charged in federal magistrate court.
On Jan. 29, 2020, Martinez waived her right to a detention hearing and Ritter ordered her held without bail.
When Zuni Police Department officers arrived, they found the victim, a child, not breathing and unresponsive, either lying next to the Explorer or being held by Martinez. Rock also describes the Explorer, an SUV, as a truck. The child, Martinez’s son, is neither named nor given an age in court documents.
“The child was later pronounced dead at the scene,” Rock wrote.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Red Valley, Ariz. man will get to return home to take care of his ailing father, help is elderly mother and raise his daughter after a federal District Court judge ordered him released from an Albuquerque halfway house, overruling a federal magistrate judge, and federal prosecutor, who wanted to keep him in a communal setting despite the risk of the coronavirus, in a ruling April 20, 2020.
Briones denied Clah’s request to be allowed to move to Red Valley, Ariz., to take care of his parents and daughter, on April 1, 2020 and wrote in his denial that the dangers of the halfway house were justified because of Clah’s “pattern of prior conduct” and that his defense attorney didn’t show that there are “sufficient safeguards” to protect the community from the risk of Clah drinking and driving, if he isn’t living at the halfway house.