Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez asks for reconsideration after guilty verdict

• A jury found Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez guilty of second-degree murder
• His attorney wants a mistrial for three issues, including a lack of a self defense instruction

DEMING, N.M. — A Florida man is asking for a mistrial, after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder for the strangling death of a woman outside Hachita in 2017.

The jury found Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez guilty of second-degree murder on Aug. 20, 2020, following a four-day trial and a single hour of jury deliberation, according to logs of the trial.

Isaias Loabto-Rodriguez

Lobato-Rodriguez’s attorney, George Harrison, gave three reasons for a new trial in his motion:

• An improper comment by prosecutor Matthew Bradburn, during opening statement over Lobato-Rodriguez asserting his right to remain silent, citing the 2007 case State v. Rodriguez.

• A failure to correct an improper translation in which Lobato-Rodriguez mumbled that he thought the victim told him he would “be dead that day.”

• The denial of a previous motion to suppress, previously denied twice by the judge.

A hearing on the motion to reconsider is set for 10 a.m., Oct. 26, 2020, along with his sentencing hearing.

On March 17, 2017, Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez, of Florida, allegedly tied a belt around Connie Lopez’s neck, strangling her in the front seat of her rented mini-van, two miles east of Hachita in Grant County, according to a statement of probable cause.

He allegedly told two Border Patrol agents, one of whom found Lopez’s body, that she was going to kill him and his family and that he was with other people in a berm in the desert. The agents could find neither footprints nor signs of anyone else.

For more details on the killing of Connie Lopez, see the case write-up.

Improper comment

Harrison wrote in this motion that telling the jury that Lobato-Rodriguez asserted his right to remain silent was not a harmless error. Specifically, Bradburn said:

Agent (Moises) Mascorro then went to the Deming State Police office which is where Mr. Lobato Rodriguez has been taken from the scene. He got brought back from there to Deming and he wasn’t free to leave, and he he he was the suspect I mean, that’s it, and so, Mr. Agent Mascorro did engage in conversation with Mr. Lobato Rodriguez and Mr. Lobato Rodriguez asserted his right to remain silent.”

The prohibition on mentioning a defendant asserting his right to remain silent has existed since the Miranda rights were established and is “well known to all attorneys,” Harrison wrote.

“There is no reason to mention exercising Miranda rights in opening statement other than to prejudice the defendant,” he wrote.

After Bradburn made the statement, Harrison moved for a mistrial, which the judge denied.

In a response to the motion to reconsider, Bradburn wrote that the judge “fully considered” the objection and request for a mistrial and evaluated it according to another 2007 case, State v. Pacheco, and the judge offered a “curative instruction” which Harrison objected.

“The Court fully considered this issue on more than one occasion during trial and made its ruling,” Bradburn wrote. “There is nothing asserted by the defendant in his Motion to Reconsider to justify the Court reversing its trial ruling.”

Translation error

Harrison wrote that Lobato-Rodriguez said the victim, Connie Lopez, told him “he would be dead that day.” The interpreter did not translate the phrase during the “case in chief” and the statement was “essential to the defense theory of the case.”

“The interpreter did interpret other statements of the defendant which had much different meaning without that statement. Counsel for the defendant told the Court that some statements were not being interpreted but could not tell the substance. The defendant had no way to know his statement was not translated for the jury,” Harrison wrote.

Interpreter Heidi Swanson tried to clarify the problem later, outside of the presence of the jury. Harrison wrote, from the tapes of the trial:

“-Heidi Swanson interpreter: The interpreter needs to clarify statement of earlier what have done I was interpreting for Mr. Lobato he was asked am about and when he was going to go with Mrs. Connie, Ms. Connie; and about the mountains and I don’t remember know exactly what the whole statement that was asked, but he said that he was going to go and that she asked him to look to the right to see that beautiful or the pretty mountains and because he was never going to see it again and then at that point he said mumbled something and the interpreter I asked for repetition he was asked for repetition but he did not repeat the same statement so interpreter I just interpreted what he had said which he did not repeat the part which where she said that he was not going to see the mountains anymore because he was going to be dead and so that part was not repeated for Mr. Lobato and so the interpreter did not repeat that part.”

Bradburn said in closing statements that Lobato-Rodriguez did not say Lopez posed a threat, Harrison wrote.

“The State conceded that the omitted testimony would change the course of the trial during argument to correct the interpretation,” Harrison wrote.

Judge Jared Hofacket also denied a a self defense jury instruction, Harrison wrote.

Harrison also filed a motion specifically to correct the error.

Bradburn wrote in response that Hofacket found Lobato-Rodriguez “had a full and fair opportunity to testify on cross examination” and on re-direct.

“Whatever the claimed shortcomings of the court interpreter, the defendant and his attorney had a complete opportunity to communicate the defendant’s version of events to the jury,” Bradburn wrote. “Noteworthy in this connection, the defendant only articulated this claim to the Court after the close of all evidence in the case. ”

Motion to suppress

Harrison also raised a previous motion to suppress that had been twice denied before, where he argued that Lobato-Rodriguez was in custody when he was questioned by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

“This is a Mexican National who came to a Border Patrol Agent and admitted he was here illegally. He was not free to go. He was ordered to sit on the ground. At trial the Court learned that the statements made to the first officer were not I killed her but an untranslatable phrase. Further questioning after being detained by border Patrol should be suppressed. When mirandized he requested an attorney,” Harrison wrote.

Bradburn wrote in response that the judge “should decline the defendant’s invitation to second guess itself” and the motion presented no new issues.

Continue reading “Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez asks for reconsideration after guilty verdict”

Appeals court suggests no double jeopardy in Scott Bachicha case

• A Court of Appeals judge suggested the appeal be dismissed as Scott Bachicha does not face a double jeopardy violation
• Judge Brett Loveless stayed the case pending the appeal
• The case has been going on for over three years and was initially dismissed after a prosecutor missed deadlines

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Court of Appeals filed a proposed disposition that Scott Wade Bachicha’s right against double jeopardy would not be violated if prosecutors moved forward with a firearms enhancement in the involuntary manslaughter case against him.

Scott Bachicha

In a proposed summary disposition filed on Sept. 10, 2020, Court of Appeals Judge Miles Hanisee wrote that the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected the basis of the double jeopardy claim Ramczyk used in State v Baroz, where the supreme court found that a firearms enhancement did not violate double jeopardy even though the use of a firearm is an element of the charge.

“Given the holding in Baroz, we propose that the firearm enhancement in this case does not violate double jeopardy,” Hanisee wrote. “Accordingly, we propose to reverse the district court’s order dismissing the firearm enhancement.”

District Judge Daniel Ramczyk dismissed the firearms enhancement in an order on Nov. 20, 2019, following a hearing. Prosecutors James Grayson and Mia Rubin then filed an interlocutory appeal of his decision on Jan. 29, 2020. The case has been stayed since the appeal was filed.

According to a flow chart provided by the Court of Appeals, Bachicha’s attorney has 20 days to file a memo in response. The court could then issue another notice or issue an opinion. Once an opinion is issued, his attorney could file a motion for a rehearing.

The case

Bachicha, 35, allegedly shot and killed girlfriend Mindy Stuart, 30, with a shotgun blast to the neck on April 16, 2017. In court documents, Bachicha’s attorneys argue the shooting was purely accidental but Albuquerque Police Department detectives initially charged him with an open count of murder, followed by a grand jury indictment on a charge of first-degree murder on May 2, 2017. (Read more details about the case in the write-up.)

After Second Judicial District prosecutor John Duran missed a series of deadlines, he dismissed the case without prejudice on Feb. 12, 2018 and then brought a new indictment on charges of involuntary manslaughter with a firearm enhancement and tampering with evidence, on Dec. 4, 2018. He left the case after Bachicha’s attorney tried to call him as a witness.

On April 17, 2020, District Judge Brett Loveless granted a stay in the case, requested by Rubin, pending the outcome of the appeal on the firearms enhancement.

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.

Also pending is a motion to suppress statements as involuntary.

No further hearings are scheduled in either the appeal or in the case proper.

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DA dismisses murder charge against Anthony Wagon

• Prosecutor Brian Decker dismissed murder case two weeks after a judge ordered one of Anthony Wagon‘s interrogations be suppressed
• A judge suppressed Det. Jason Solomon‘s interrogation, where Wagon allegedly admitted to running down Jeremy Beard
• Wagon spent over three years in jail after initially being released on bond

See the case write-up

AZTEC, N.M. — A prosecutor dismissed the murder case against Anthony Wagon, 23, three weeks after a judge suppressed Wagon’s interrogation by a Farmington detective, and three years after a judge ordered him held without bail pending trial.

Anthony Wagon

San Juan County District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Brian Decker filed the nolle prosequi dismissing the case on June 23, 2020, after District Court Judge Daylene Marsh suppressed Farmington Det. Jason Solomon‘s interrogation of Wagon following Jeremy Beard’s death on April 24, 2017.

After Marsh suppressed the statement on June 2, 2020, in which Wagon allegedly said he ran down Beard after being tackled by him during a fight over a beer, Decker immediately filed an appeal.

Marsh wrote, in her order suppressing his statements to Solomon, that he was never read his rights. His attorney, Craig Acorn, also made the argument that Wagon was too drunk to consent to an interrogation, but her decision made his intoxication a moot point.

“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.

Marsh cited State v Serna, a Court of Appeals case from 2018. In that case, the Appeals Court found that a Miranda warning requires “that a person be warned, at least implicitly, that they have a right to counsel prior to questioning.” In the case of Ernest Serna, Sandoval Sheriff’s Deputy Sal Tortorici, reciting a Miranda warning from memory, told Serna he had a right to an attorney during questioning. The court found this to be “inadequate.”

While Solomon never read Wagon his rights, Det. Chris Stanton and Sgt. Travis Spruell did after they illegally seized him from the Navajo Nation.

On June 4, 2020, Decker filed a motion to dismiss his appeal and for Marsh to reconsider her suppression order.

He wrote that Stanton read Wagon the correct Miranda warning and that, when he testified during a motion hearing, it was from memory and not the card he carried. Marsh granted his motion and set a hearing for July 7, 2020.

On June 23, Decker dismissed the case, writing it was in the “best interest of justice.”

Prosecutor Dustin O’Brien told the Farmington Daily Times that “the district court followed what is mandated by state law and the Farmington Police Department was issuing Miranda warnings consistent with law at the time.”

Police Spokeswoman Nicole Brown told the Daily Times that the case was “dismissed pending further investigation” following Marsh’s ruling and that the police department “is still pursuing and investigating the incident.”

Wagon was initially released on a bond following his arraignment in magistrate court but after the case was bound over, former district judge John Dean ordered Wagon held without bail on May 26, 2017.

Dean wrote in his order that Wagon’s step-mother testified against him, as did Solomon.

“Based on the testimony of Tina Wagon, Defendant’s step-mother, Mr. Wagon has a history of anger issues than can cumulate (sic) in aggression and violence — particularly when Defendant does not get his way,” Dean wrote. “In fact, Ms. Wagon testified that Mr. Wagon one time became so upset he shoved her and caused her to fall.”

Dean wrote that Wagon “fled through a non-direct path” to his parent’s home on the reservation, that that he was “indifferent to the consequences of his actions” and that Wagon was a danger to the community.

A civil case filed by Beard’s father is still pending as is a battery on a peace officer case stemming from Wagon’s three years in jail.

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Trial date set for Florida man accused of strangling woman near Hachita

See the case write-up

SILVER CITY, N.M. — A Florida man is set to go to trial on a charge of murder in August, assuming he does not take a plea deal during a pre-trial video conference set for July 27, 2020.

Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez

On March 17, 2017, Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez, 56, allegedly tied a belt around Connie Lopez’s neck, strangling her in the front seat of her rented mini-van, two miles east of Hachita in Grant County.

Lobato-Rodriguez’s murder trial had previously been set back after his attorney left the case to take a job with the state and after issues with an expert interpreter. He was initially interrogated by Border Patrol agents in Spanish, the subject of a motion to suppress.

His trial had previously been set for Oct. 7, 2019, a date that was vacated after his new attorney, Chico Gallegosfiled a motion to continue the jury trial. He wrote that it “became clear” that he needed to hire an expert witness to translate what was said in English, and in Spanish, for the various communications between border patrol agents and Lobato-Rodriguez.

A new trial date of Aug. 17 to 21, 2020, was set by the judge on Dec. 4, 2019. Then on Jan. 21, 2020, a pre-trial conference and plea hearing was set for July 27, 2020 at the district courthouse in Silver City.

On June 5, 2020, the court clerk entered an amended notice of a pre-trial conference and plea hearing set for 1 p.m., July 27, 2020, done via video conference. The hearing is set for 15 minutes.

It is not clear from the court documents and filings if Lobato-Rodriguez plans to plead guilty or if it is a perfunctory hearing before the trial. The hearing is set for 15 minutes.

According to the docket, most of the previous pre-trial conferences have also been labeled as plea hearings.

The trial is still set for Aug. 17, according to the docket.

Continue reading “Trial date set for Florida man accused of strangling woman near Hachita”

Victim’s father files wrongful death lawsuit against Anthony Wagon

See the case write-up

FARMINGTON, N.M. — The father of Jeremy Beard, allegedly intentionally run over in 2017, is suing the accused killer and his insurance company for his son’s death.

Anthony Wagon

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.

Anthony Wagon allegedly ran down Jeremy Beard, 29, on April 26, 2017 with his truck, after Jeremy Beard took him down during a scuffle following accusations over a stolen beer. Jeremy Beard was his aunt’s husband.

Anthony Wagon is charged with first-degree murder for Jeremy Beard’s death and his case is ongoing.

Christian Beard’s attorney, William Jaworski, wrote in the lawsuit that MGA and Gainsco insured the truck allegedly used to run over Jeremy Beard, and the three Wagons paid the insurance premiums.

When Anthony Wagon allegedly ran down Jeremy Beard, he operated the car in a “negligent and reckless manner,” Jaworski wrote.

“The car accident that killed Jeremy Beard was foreseeable,” he wrote. “The car accident was a proximate cause of Jeremy Beard’s death.”

He is asking for reasonable damages, compensatory damages for the loss of consortium, for the enhanced injury of death and punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.

No hearings have been set in the case.

Read more about the criminal case in the write-up or read more stories about the case

See the case documents on Google Drive or Document Cloud

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Kasey Weaver asks for a sentence reduction in DWI homicide

Kasey Weaver killed boyfriend Kit Francis II in a drunk car crash in 2017
• She wants the judge to reconsider her sentence because of her record and good behavior

See the case write-up

SANTA FE, N.M. — Kasey Weaver asked the judge who sentenced her to eight years in prison, followed by five years of supervised probation, to rethink that sentence.

Kasey Weaver

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.

No hearings have been set and no other entries appear on the court docket.

Weaver and her boyfriend, Kit Francis II, 24, were driving from Santa Fe to Albuquerque after drinking at Meow Wolf on April 16, 2017 when Weaver crashed into a car after she tried to stop at a red light at Cerrillos Road, before the exit to the I-25 interstate.

She was arrested initially for DUI great bodily harm. Francis, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the car and died later at an Albuquerque hospital.

A jury found her guilty of DUI vehicular homicide on Nov. 16, 2018. On April 19, 2019,  District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer sentenced Weaver to eight years in prison followed by five years of supervised probation. Weaver faced a maximum sentence of 15 years.

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.

See the case documents on Google Drive or Document Cloud

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Oral arguments scheduled for Muhammad Ameer murder appeal

Muhammad Ameer is appealing two issues from his trial
• The case is scheduled for a year after the last brief was submitted to the court in July 2019

See the full case write-up
Update: Listen to the oral arguments

SANTA FE, N.M. — Justices will hear oral arguments in Muhammad Ameer‘s appeal of his felony murder conviction on July 7, 2020, although it may be done via teleconference.

Muhammad Ameer

The case is scheduled for oral arguments 10:15 a.m., July 7, 2020, but whether it will be in person or via video is still up in the air because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

District Judge Jacqueline Flores sentenced Ameer to life in prison, which is a term of 30 years, on Sept. 25, 2018, according to court documents.

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 case is scheduled for oral arguments at 10:15 a.m., July 7, 2020.

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Judge suppresses Anthony Wagon’s interrogation, prosecutors appeal

• Judge orders interrogation of Anthony Wagon be suppressed
• Prosecutors appealed the order the same day
• Judge previously found Farmington police officers illegally seized Wagon on the Navajo Nation

See the full case write-up

AZTEC, N.M. — Prosecutors cannot use Anthony Wagon‘s statement to a Farmington detective made in the police station, following his illegal seizure on the Navajo Nation, District Judge Daylene Marsh ordered on June 2, 2020, but prosecutors appealed the order same day.

Wagon allegedly ran down his aunt’s husband, April 26, 2017, in his car because he was allegedly mad about getting taken to the ground during a scuffle.

Anthony Wagon

Farmington Police Det. Jason Solomon never read Wagon his Miranda rights after he was brought in for interrogation by detectives Chris StantonJesse Griggs and Chad Herrera, Marsh wrote. The three went to the Navajo nation and, Marsh previously ruled, illegally seized him.

The three detectives went to a house on the Navajo Nation, found Wagon, ordered he come to them, and then transported him to the border where they transferred him into Sgt. Travis Spruell’s police car, who then took him to the Farmington Police Department, Marsh wrote in a July 31, 2019 order. In that order, she found the seizure was illegal, but, after further briefings, she upheld the statements Wagon made to Spruell in an order filed Nov. 15, 2019.

Wagon’s attorney, public defender Craig Acorn, filed a motion to suppress on Jan 16, 2020, followed by an addendum on March 3, 2020. After a hearing on May 14, 2020, Marsh issued her June 2, 2020 decision.

Acorn wrote that Wagon was very drunk and was never given his Miranda warnings, and even if it were given, he was too intoxicated to waive his rights.

Marsh wrote, in her order suppressing his statements to Solomon, that he was never read his rights, making his intoxication a moot point.

“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.

The same day Marsh issued the order suppressing Wagon’s interrogation by Solomon, June 2, 2020, prosecutor Brian Decker filed a notice of appeal.

No further court hearings have been scheduled.

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Judge stays ABQ involuntary manslaughter case for prosecution appeal

• 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

See the full case write-up

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.

Scott Bachicha

Scott Wade Bachicha, 35, allegedly shot and killed girlfriend Mindy Stuart, 30, with a shotgun blast to the neck on April 16, 2017. In court documents, Bachicha’s attorneys argue the shooting was purely accidental but Albuquerque Police Department detectives initially charged him with an open count of murder, followed by a grand jury indictment on a charge of first-degree murder on May 2, 2017. (Read more details about the case in the write-up.)

Second Judicial District prosecutor John Duran missed a series of deadlines and dismissed the case without prejudice on Feb. 12, 2018 and then brought a new indictment on charges of involuntary manslaughter with a firearm enhancement and tampering with evidence, on Dec. 4, 2018.

Bachicha’s attorney, Raymond Maestas, filed a motion to dismiss the firearms enhancement on Oct. 8, 2019. District Judge Daniel Ramczyk dismissed the firearms enhancement in an order on Nov. 20, 2019, following a hearing. Maestas also tried to call Duran as a witness and have the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office removed from the case.

After Ramczyk dismissed the firearms enhancement, prosecutor Mia Ulibarri filed a motion for Ramczyk to reconsider his dismissal of the firearms enhancement on Nov. 18, 2019. He denied that request and prosecutors James Grayson and Mia Rubin then filed an interlocutory appeal of his decision on Jan. 29, 2020.

On Jan. 31, 2020, Rubin filed a motion to stay the case pending the appeal of the firearms enhancement.

Ramczyk heard that motion on Feb. 12, 2020 and orally denied the motion, but never filed a written order. On Feb. 21, 2020, Ramczyk recused himself from the case, but listed no reason.

District Judge Brett Loveless was assigned to the case on Feb. 27, 2020, after three other judges recused themselves and on March 11, 2020, Meastas again argued against the stay.

On April 17, 2020, Loveless granted the motion to stay the appeal. According to the docket, all proceedings are suspended.

“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.

Also pending is a motion to suppress statements as involuntary.

No hearings or pleadings have been filed in the prosecution’s appeal of the firearm enhancement dismissal.

Continue reading “Judge stays ABQ involuntary manslaughter case for prosecution appeal”

Judge: Farmington police made illegal seizure on Navajo reservation

  • The judge denied a motion to dismiss Anthony Wagon’s case
  • Attorneys to address if statements made following the illegal seizure should be suppressed

See the full case write-up or more stories on this case

AZTEC, N.M. — Attorneys have an hour to argue, Oct. 24, 2019, if statements Anthony Wagon made to Farmington Police detectives should be suppressed after they illegally seized him while on the Navajo reservation.

Anthony Wagon

Oral arguments are set for 2:30 p.m., Oct. 24, 2019 in the District Court in Aztec in front of District Court Judge Daylene Marsh.

Wagon allegedly ran down his aunt’s husband, April 26, 2017, in his car because he was allegedly mad about getting taken to the ground during a scuffle.

Marsh previously denied a May 22 motion to dismiss the entire case filed by Wagon’s defense attorney, Craig Acorn. Acorn filed a separate motion to suppress Wagon’s statements on April 25.

On June 11, Marsh held a hearing where she heard testimony from Det. Chris Stanton and Sgt. Travis Spruell.

Continue reading “Judge: Farmington police made illegal seizure on Navajo reservation”

Andrew Magill sentenced to 45 years for nearly decapitating woman during drug-induced psychosis

  • Andrew Magill received a 45-year sentence, after facing a maximum of 51 years

See the full case here

CARRIZOZO, N.M. — A District Court judge sentenced Andrew Magill to 45 years in prison followed by five years of supervised probation, Sept. 6, 2019, for nearly decapitating a woman at a Glencoe ranch in April 2017 and shooting a Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy after trying to turn himself in to police.

Andrew Magill

Magill had previously pleaded guilty on May 22, 2019, to charges of second-degree murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit a violent felony against an officer and felon in possession of a firearm. District Court Judge Daniel Bryant accepted his plea and entered the sentence. He suspended six years of his sentence and if he violates his probation after being released, he could be sentenced to the remaining six years.

According to the plea deal, Magill faced a maximum sentence of 51 years after he agreed that aggravating circumstances were present, which increased his maximum sentence by 1/3.

According to the Ruidoso News, a psychiatrist hired by prosecutors found Magill killed Mary Ann Moorehouse during a “drug-induced psychosis.” Sugg said during a press conference, after the plea hearing, that the psychiatrist was paid $100,000.

Continue reading “Andrew Magill sentenced to 45 years for nearly decapitating woman during drug-induced psychosis”

Anthony Wagon: Jeremy Beard — 4-24-2017

Suspect: Anthony Wagon

Victim: Jeremy Beard, 29

Charges: First-degree murder

Status: Dismissed by prosecutor on June 23, 2020

Date of incident: April 26, 2017

Agency: Farmington Police Department

Location: 2300 block of West Apache Street, Farmington

Magistrate case number: M-47-FR-2017-00297

District case number: D-1116-CR-201700404

Wrongful death lawsuit: D-1116-CV-2020-00578

Prosecutor: Brian Decker

Prosecuting agency: 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Summary

Anthony Wagon allegedly ran down his aunt’s husband, April 26, 2017, in his car because he was allegedly mad about getting taken to the ground during a scuffle.

On May 5, 2017, the case was bound over to District Court on a charge of first-degree murder.

On June 2, 2020, District Judge Daylene Marsh ordered Wagon’s statements to a detective be suppressed. Prosecutors appealed, rescinded their appeal and asked Marsh to reconsider her decision because they did not give her the proper evidence at a prior hearing. Marsh granted the hearing but before it could happen, prosecutor Brian Decker dismissed the case because it was “in the best interest of justice.”

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The incident

After Jeremy Beard took Anthony Wagon to the ground, Wagon knew what his only recourse was, according to court records.

“You’re dead,” Wagon allegedly thought after Beard hit him. Wagon relayed that alleged thought to Farmington Detective Jason Solomon during an interview after he allegedly ran Beard over. “You’re fucking dead.”

Wagon and Beard had been drinking with Genella and Garrett Holiday at the El Ray Trailer Park on West Apache Street in Farmington, Solomon wrote in a statement of probable cause for Wagon’s arrest.

Anthony Wagon

Beard was Genella Holiday’s husband, Wagon was her nephew and Garrett Holiday was Wagon’s uncle.

Wagon told Solomon that he had been drinking with the group and Beard became upset when he thought Wagon tried to steal his beer.

“Jeremy hit Anthony a glancing blow to the back of his head and Anthony and Garrett took him to the ground and tried to calm him down,” Solomon wrote, based on his interview of Wagon. “Jeremy got back up and hit Anthony again, knocking him down.”

That was Wagon’s alleged breaking point.

“Anthony told me as soon as Jeremy hit him he said ‘you’re dead. You’re fucking dead,'” Solomon wrote. “I asked if he told Jeremy this and he said no, he said it to himself, in his mind. Anthony said Jeremy would not calm down and the fighting continued.”

Eventually, Beard ran south, down the road and away from the trailer. Garrett Holiday was chasing him, then Wagon allegedly got into his own truck and started following them both.

“He told me Garrett passed out as he was running so Anthony stopped and picked him up,” Solomon wrote. “He then drove onto Apache Street, heading west bound.”

Wagon allegedly spotted Beard on the side walk, headed west.

“He said he ‘floored it,’ drove up on the curb and hit Jeremy with the truck,” Solomon wrote.

Garrett Holiday has not been charged in connection with the death, according to court records.

Wagon told Solomon that Beard was a crack head and that it is hard to fight people high on methamphetamine.

“He said the only way to ‘take someone out’ who was on meth was ‘some other lethal weapon, which is my truck, that’s attempted murder, and that’s a hit and run,'” Solomon wrote, based on his interview of Wagon.

He then asked Wagon why he hit Beard with the truck.

“He said he wanted to paralyze or disable Jeremy but ‘if he dies, he dies, that’s on him. Not me,'” Solomon wrote. “He also said he knew Jeremy had to be hurt or dead because he hit him with the pickup.”

Wagon allegedly described seeing Beard’s back come over the hood of the truck, before he fell back to the ground and went under the truck.

“Anthony said he could then feel the pickup’s tires drove over Jeremy,” Solomon wrote. “Anthony said he wanted Jeremy to know he messed with the wrong person.”

First reports

When the crash was first reported at 9:30 p.m. it was assumed to be a fatal hit and run, Solomon wrote.

An officer spoke to witness Brandy Yniguez, who said she was driving down Apache Street when she saw a white truck pull out of the El Ray Trailer Park, right in front of her.

The truck was driving fast and swerving to the left and right, then struck a decorative wheel mounted on the side of the street.

As she turned, to go home, she saw Beard lying in the driveway to 2310 West Apache Street, then called 911.

Other officers located Wagon and Garrett Holiday, although Wagon’s apprehension is the subject of a series of suppression and dismissal motions.

Below is the statement of probable cause Solomon wrote for Wagon’s arrest:

 

PC - Anthony Wagon - 4-26-2017 - M-47-FR-2017-297

Bound over

On May 3, 2017, Wagon waived a preliminary hearing, prosecutors filed a criminal information charging him with first-degree murder and the case was bound over to district court.

Illegal seizure

On April 25, 2019, Wagon’s attorney, Craig Acorn, filed a motion to suppress evidence and statements of Wagon following his unrecorded apprehension by Farmington police while he was on the Navajo nation. On May 22, he filed a motion to dismiss the entire case for an alleged violation of tribal sovereignty. Prosecutor Brian Decker filed a response to the motion to suppress on May 20 and a response to the motion to dismiss on June 6.

Judge's portrait
11th District Judge Daylene Marsh

On June 11, District Court Judge Daylene Marsh held a hearing where she heard testimony from Det. Chris Stanton and Sgt. Travis Spruell.

Following the hearing, on July 31, 2019, she filed an order denying the motion to dismiss and ordering additional briefing on issues not addressed in the original briefings, specifically related to the police’s illegal seizure of Wagon.

In her order, she summarized the testimony presented:

The night of the crash, Farmington Police detectives Chris Stanton, Jesse Griggs and Chad Herrera drove to Wagon’s address on the Navajo Nation in an unmarked Ford F-150, Marsh wrote.

They spotted Wagon’s vehicle and as they approached, they saw Wagon come out of a house carrying a box. When he saw them, he allegedly ducked behind it, she wrote.

Detectives shouted at Wagon to come out from behind the vehicle and he did, with his hands up, and started talking to the detectives. None of their body cameras or audio recorders were recording, Marsh wrote.

Wagon allegedly started “making statements that implicated him in the crash” and the three detectives got him to get into their vehicle, where they drove him to the border of the Navajo Nation, where he was moved into Sgt. Travis Spruell‘s police car, she wrote.

Spruell was recording, unlike the three detectives, she wrote.

Marsh wrote that the detectives illegally seized Wagon and rejected the prosecution’s argument that the seizure was “lawful for purposes of ‘officer safety.'”

The seizure was not an arrest and “resolved almost immediately into a consensual encounter and remained that way.”

Further, it was not illegal for the detectives to transport Wagon off of the Navajo Nation, even though Wagon was intoxicated and this likely contributed to his “improvident decision.”

Although Acorn made an issue of the lack of department-mandated recordings, their lack did not “persuade this Court that it should ignore Detective Stanton’s testimony as untruthful.”

Marsh wrote that Stanton’s explanation, that he believed he turned on his body cam but it either did not record because of a bad battery or full memory card, was “not particularly satisfying, but it was a reasonable one.”

She wrote that it was not illegal for detectives to take Wagon off of the reservation, even though his initial seizure was illegal.

However, there was a “closer call” over the motion to suppress Wagon’s statement because she already concluded his seizure was illegal.

“Whether the particular evidence the State seeks to admit at trial and Defendant seeks to suppress was  discovered as a result of, or was derived from, the exploitation of Defendant’s illegal initial seizure or whether the evidence may have been purged of the taint of the illegal seizure requires legal analysis that the parties have not briefed,” Marsh wrote.

She ordered the prosecution brief the issue first, with a 15-day deadline, followed by the defense’s response 15 days later.

Decker filed his supplemental brief and Acorn filed his response.

A hearing on the issues happened on Oct. 24, 2019 in Aztec.

No suppression

On Nov. 25, 2019, Marsh ruled that Wagon’s statements to Spruell would not be suppressed at trial.

“There was sufficient attenuation to purge the taint of the illegal seizure of the Defendant, thereby, preventing the exclusion of the Defendant’s statements to Sergeant Spruell,” she wrote.

Wagon’s removal from the Navajo Nation was not illegal because Wagon went with Spruell voluntarily, she wrote.

Suppressed statement

On Jan 16, 2020, Acorn filed a motion to suppress the statements Wagon made to Solomon while being interrogated at the Farmington Police Department. He then filed an addendum on March 3, 2020.

Acorn wrote that Wagon was very drunk and was never given his Miranda warnings, and even if it were given, he was too intoxicated to waive his rights.

Marsh wrote, in her order suppressing his statements to Solomon, that he was never read his Miranda rights, making his intoxication a moot point.

“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.

The same day Marsh issued the order suppressing Wagon’s interrogation by Solomon, June 2, 2020, Decker filed a notice of appeal.

On June 23, 2020, Decker dismissed the case.

Wrongful death lawsuit

Jeremy Beard’s father, Christian Beard, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Farmington District Court on April 24, 2020, naming Wagon, relatives Hershell Wagon and Tina Wagon and insurance companies MGA Insurance Company and Gainsco Insurance Company.

Christian Beard’s attorney, William Jaworski, wrote in the lawsuit that MGA and Gainsco insured the truck allegedly used to run over Jeremy Beard, and the three Wagons paid the insurance premiums.

When Anthony Wagon allegedly ran down Jeremy Beard, he operated the car in a “negligent and reckless manner,” Jaworski wrote.

“The car accident that killed Jeremy Beard was foreseeable,” he wrote. “The car accident was a proximate cause of Jeremy Beard’s death.”

He is asking for reasonable damages, compensatory damages for the loss of consortium, for the enhanced injury of death and punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.

No hearings have been set in the case.

See the case documents on Google Drive or Document Cloud

Joel Arciniega-Saenz: Benjamin Montoya — 4-22-2017

Suspect: Joel Arciniega-Saenz (charges dismissed)

Victim: Benjamin Montoya, 21

Charges: First-degree murder (dismissed)

Status: Dismissed by prosecutors on April 20, 2018

Date of incident: April 22, 2017

Agency: Las Cruces Police Department

Location: 2205 W Picacho Ave #105, Las Cruces, NM, 88007

Magistrate case number: M-14-FR-2017-00305

District case number: D-307-CR-201700437

Prosecutor: Rebecca Duffin

Summary

On April 22, 2017, Benjamin Montoya and his pregnant girlfriend were staying at their friend Joel Arciniega-Saenz’s motel room.

After a fight, someone shot Montoya in the chest. Arciniega-Saenz claimed a petite woman shot his friend, but Montoya’s girlfriend, Dakota Ocampo, alleged that Arciniega-Saenz was the shooter.

She had previously spurned Arciniega-Saenz’s affections and told him she viewed him as a brother.

Arciniega-Saenz was charged with an open count of murder and was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder on May 4, 2017 according to the docket.

Prosecutor Rebecca Duffin dismissed the case on April 20, 2018, without prejudice, “because new information has come to light that requires further investigation in this matter.”

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The incident

On April 22, 2017, Benjamin Montoya was shot in the chest at the Town House Motel on West Picacho in Las Cruces.

With him were his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Dakota Ocampo and his friend, Joel Arciniega-Saenz, Las Cruces Police Department Detective Ricky Bardwell wrote in an affidavit for Arciniega-Saenz’s arrest.

All of them were at Arciniega-Saenz’s room at the motel. Ocampo and Montoya had come to spend the night there.

Alleged Eye Witness Dakota Ocampo’s version

Joel Arciniega-Saenz

Ocampo told Bardwell that she has been friends with Arciniega-Saenz for the past five years and she considered him to be a brother. At the same time, she had been in the relationship with Montoya for the past few months, Bardwell wrote, based on his interview with Ocampo.

“(Joel) met with her at Joel’s apartment to stay with her,” Bardwell wrote. “(Joel) has had a crush on her, and she told him she valued for friendship too much and did not to ruin it.”

Ocampo treated Arciniega-Saenz as a confidante, and told him all about her intimate relations.

She claimed that she fell asleep when she woke to Montoya arguing with a tall, thin man with shaggy hair whom she did not know. Because she did not have her glasses on, she could not recognize the man’s face, but noticed he was wearing a white shirt.

“(During) the argument between Benjamin and the Male she is struck in the mouth,” Bardwell wrote. “(Benjamin) and the male begin got physically (sic) fight. The fight moved towards the area where the refrigerator is located, and eventually back towards the bed.”

Montoya is pushed onto the bed and the unknown man pulled a gun and shot him, then ran out of the apartment.

“(Benjamin) screams for help, and walks out of the apartment towards the parking lot,” Bardwell wrote.

Shortly thereafter, Ocampo alleged that Arciniega-Saenz walked into the apartment, told her not to worry and to stay in the apartment before walking back outside.

“(Dakota) mentioned to the Affiant Benjamin had confronted her the previous night about being pregnant, and it had become a topic of conversation throughout the night,” Bardwell wrote. “Affiant asked Dakota if she is able to recognize people in the same room without her seeing glasses? She stated yes.”

She told Bardwell that the assailant was wearing the same clothes as Arciniega-Saenz, then said she was only 60 percent sure.

“Affiant asked if Joel was the person who shot Benjamin?” Bardwell wrote. “Dakota began to cry and stated yes.”

Interrogation of Joel Arciniega-Saenz

When he talked to Arciniega-Saenz, the latter allegedly said that Montoya and Ocampo were inside sleeping when he woke up and went outside to smoke. Bardwell did not write if he read Arciniega-Saenz his Miranda rights before questioning him.

“(He) sees a female approach him and ask for Dakota,” Bardwell wrote. “He thinks she is a friend of Dakota, and allows her to enter the apartment. (During) this time Benjamin and Dakota are still asleep. (While) he was outside doing his thing, he began to hear arguing coming from inside the apartment.”

He allegedly told Bardwell he heard a gunshot, hid behind a bush and watched as the skinny woman, whom he described as resembling a drug addict, ran out of the apartment, into the parking lot and left in a silver car. He also claimed he never approached Montoya or went back into the apartment.

Interview of neighbor Annette Martinez

His neighbor, Annette Martinez, told Bardwell that Arciniega-Saenz lives a few doors down from her.

Town house motel
Town House Motel, Las Cruces, NM. Photo by Thomas Hawk/Flickr. CC BY-NC

“(For) several days, Mrs. Martinez has been hearing Joel, Dakota and Benjamin argue, yell or make a commotion,” Bardwell wrote, based on his conversation with Martinez. “(On) today’s date, Mrs. Martinez hears Dakota and Benjamin arguing outside of room 105, which is Joel’s room. (They) continued to argue but took the argument back into the house where she could still hear them.”

Shortly after, she heard a bang. Initially she did not see anything. A short time later, Ocampo and Arciniega-Saenz were allegedly standing over Montoya’s body, he wrote.

“(Mrs.) Martinez is familiar with Joel and has witnessed him to become more aggressive lately and that he has recently made comments as to wanting to kill someone,” Bardwell wrote.

Bardwell claimed in the affidavit that Montoya’s injuries were not consistent with the shot being fired by a petite woman. He did not list his reasoning.

“Affiant observed a red substance to be blood on Joel’s sleeve, which is not consistent with the statement Joel gave of not making contact with Benjamin or enter the apartment after he is shot,” Bardwell wrote. “(Joel’s) statement and knowledge of the bullet wound to Benjamin is not consistent with him not making contact with Benjamin or entering the room after he is shot.”

When he looked at the bottom of Arciniega-Saenz’s shoes, he allegedly saw blood, as well as a large amount of blood at the entrance to the apartment, he wrote.

“Upon observation of Dakota, injuries were observed upon her body to include scratches upon her neck and an injury upon her mouth,” Bardwell wrote. “Due to affiant’s training and experience, the injuries that were observed were consistent to someone being involved in a physical domestic altercation which is consistent to Mrs. Martinez’s observations.”

Arciniega-Saenz was charged with an open count of murder.

PC Joel Arciniega-Saenz - 4-24-2017

 

Case dismissed

On June 1, 2017, a Las Cruces grand jury indicted Joel Arciniega-Saenz on a single charge of first-degree murder.

On Oct. 20, 2017, his attorney, George Harrison, filed a motion to review the conditions of his release. Arciniega-Saenz had previously been ordered held on a $500,000 bond. In his motion, he wrote that the prosecution had not provided any forensic evidence and that the evidence that was collected corroborated his statement to police and asked the bail be reduced to $10,000.

According to Det. Ricky Bardwell, Arciniega-Saenz allegedly said a skinny woman came up to him while he was outside smoking, then went into the room he was staying in. He heard an argument, then a gunshot. He hid behind a plant, then saw the skinny woman run out of the room.

Following a hearing on Nov. 27, 2017, the District Court judge reduced his bail to $10,000, the amount requested by the defense.

On Dec. 1, 2018, prosecutor David Ruark, filling in for Rebecca Duffin, filed an emergency motion to reconsider a previous motion for a continuance for a trial that was scheduled to start on Dec. 4, 2017. He wrote that the prosecution’s case was “almost entirely” dependent on Ocampo’s testimony. He was filling in for Duffin because she had a family emergency.

Investigators with the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office thought Ocampo was being held in a jail in El Paso, Texas, but found she had been released. Subsequently she was arrested in Las Cruces and police allegedly found a .38-caliber pistol on her, the same caliber weapon used to kill Montoya. The gun used was never recovered from the scene.

The trial was moved to Jan. 29, 2018 and on Jan. 24, 2018, Duffin filed a motion to continue the case a second time because detectives received information about another possible witness.

“The State is attempting to follow up on the latest lead and determine if there is a witness with either inculpatory or exculpatory information about the crime,” Duffin wrote.

She wrote she also sprained her ankle and would be in an ankle boot during the duration of the trial, which would hinder her ability to prosecute the case.

The same day, the judge reduced his bond to $2,500.

On April 20, 2018, Duffin dismissed the charges.

Duffin wrote she was dismissing the case, without prejudice, “because new information has come to light that requires further investigation in this matter.”

See the case documents on Google Drive

Joel Arciniega-Saenz - 4-20-2018 - Nolle Prosequi

Thomas Goodridge: Anna Goodridge — 4-22-2017

Suspect: Thomas Goodridge, 72

Victim: Anna Goodridge, 76

Charges: First-degree murder

Status: No contest plea to second-degree murder

Sentence: 8 years

Date of incident: April 22, 2017

Investigative agency: Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office

Location: 5 Alexi Place, Placitas

Relation to victim: Husband

Magistrate case number: M-45-FR-2017-00272

District case number: D-1329-CR-201700168

Summary

On April 22, 2017, Thomas Goodridge, 72, allegedly listened to a voice in his head that told him to kill his wife, Anna Goodridge, 76, because they were both going to be attacked in their Placitas home.

He allegedly took a rock from the front of their house and bludgeoned her in the head while she slept. He then washed his hands, combed his hair, brushed his teeth and then called police to say what he had done.

He allegedly told Sandoval County Sheriff’s Deputies they had been married for 46 years and was diagnosed as being bi-polar and had been taking his medication, but he was overcome with a fear that they were going to be attacked and he wanted to spare his wife as much pain as he could.

He was arrested on an open count of murder.

On May 4, 2017, he was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder and on May 2, 2019, he pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree murder. A plea deal capped his sentence at eight years, which he was sentenced to on July 30, 2019.

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The incident

On April 22, 2017, Thomas Goodridge called 911 to allegedly say that he had killed his 76-year-old wife, Anna Goodridge.

Sandoval County Sheriff’s Deputy John Colvin and Sgt. Robert Marshal were first dispatched to the call, Sgt. Victor Rodriguez wrote in a statement of probable cause for Thomas Goodridge’s arrest.

Thomas Goodridge

“Upon arrival, Deputy Colvin detained Thomas Goodridge who had walked out of the residence,” Rodriguez wrote. “Thomas Goodridge made a statement about him murdering his wife, Anna Goodridge. Sergeant Marshal made entry into the residence. Inside the master bedroom, Sergeant Marshal located Anna Goodridge lying on the bed. Anna Goodridge had sustained severe trauma to her head and she was deceased.”

Next to the bed, Marshal saw a piece of rock splattered with blood. Colvin read Thomas Goodridge his Miranda rights, including his right to remain silent, and the latter agreed to talk.

“Thomas Goodridge told Deputy Colvin that he used a rock located near the front door of the residence,” Rodriguez wrote.

The rest of the rock was located at the front of the house, covered in blood, and matched the rock shard.

Rodriguez interviewed Thomas Goodridge a second time at the sheriff’s office.

“Thomas Goodridge informed us that he woke up around 1 a.m. fearing that he and his wife, Anna Goodridge were going to be attacked,” Rodriguez wrote. “Thomas Goodridge stated he and his wife, Anna Goodridge were asleep when he awoke. In the interview, Thomas Goodridge stated he had been hearing voices and he has been experiencing this fear of being attacked for months.”

Thomas Goodridge allegedly said he did not want his wife to suffer any pain.

“Thomas Goodridge stated, ‘I thought I would take her out of her misery, so that’s what I did,'” Rodriguez wrote.

He allegedly told the detectives he stopped hitting her with the rock when he thought she was head.

“Thomas Goodridge stated before he called the police he placed the rock back at the same location where he grabbed it,” Rodriguez wrote. “Thomas Goodridge stated while he waited for the Deputies to arrive on scene, he brushed his teeth and combed his hair.”

He said they had been married for 43 years and described his wife as “the best.” Although he is bi-polar, he allegedly told Rodriguez he had been taking his medication and when he went to bed, he felt normal.

“Thomas Goodridge stated the voices that he had been hearing told him, ‘That we both were going to be harmed, and if I did not want her to be harmed I would have to take her life,'” Rodriguez wrote. “Thomas Goodridge stated he has continued to hear these voices even though he is on medication and seeing a psychiatrist.”

He was charged on an open count of murder.

Although he claimed to be taking his medication, when deputies served a search warrant on his house, they found a “significant amount” of medication that was prescribed to Thomas Goodridge, but that it appeared he had not been taking, prosecutor Mathew Wadsworth wrote in a motion to have Thomas Goodridge held in jail until trial.

Below is the statement of probable cause Rodriguez wrote for Thomas Goodridge’s arrest.

 

Statement of Probable Cause for arrest of Thomas Goodridge

 

Plea and sentence

Portrait of District Judge Louis McDonald
Judge Louis McDonald

On July 30, 2019, District Court Judge Louis McDonald sentenced Thomas Goodridge, 74, to eight years in prison for killing his wife with a rock on April 22, 2017, according to court documents.

McDonald previously, on May 2, accepted a no contest plea from Goodridge that capped his maximum sentence at eight years and set a minimum of four years. That plea mandated that the rest of his sentence be suspended, in this case seven years, and he be placed on supervised probation for five years after he is released from prison. The judgement and sentence also states that he will be placed on parole for two years.

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and it is a serious violent offense which means he must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he can be released, compared to the 50 percent required for crimes that are not considered to be serious violent offenses.

According to the judgement, Goodridge received credit of 828 days for time served while he was in jail awaiting trial, just over two years.

 

See the case documents on Google Drive.

Jacob Johnson, Liam Johnson: Donald Kalma — 4-21-2017

Suspect: Jacob Johnson, 20

Suspect: Liam Johnson, 18

Victim: Donald Kalma, 35

Charges: Second-degree murder

Status: Guilty pleas to second-degree murder, other charges; sentenced

Jacob Johnson sentence: 28 years

Liam Johnson sentence: 15 years (15-20 years under plea agreement)

Date of incident: April 21, 2017

Agency: Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office

Location: 900 block of North Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo

Relationship to victim: Nephews

Jacob Johnson Magistrate case number: M-45-FR-2017-00271

Liam Johnson Magistrate case number: M-45-FR-201700270

Jacob Johnson District case number: D-1329-CR-201700170

Liam Johnson District case number: D-1329-CR-201700171

 

Summary

Sandoval County Sheriff’s detectives alleged brothers Liam, 18, and Jacob Johnson, 20,  plotted to kill their uncle because he was getting between them in. They also planned his death in hopes that it would be a bonding experience.

On April 21, 2017, they allegedly lured him outside his room at the family’s two-house compound and hit him in the back of the head repeatedly with a three-pound sledge hammer.

They then allegedly loaded his body into the back of his own truck and dumped him into an arroyo in Rio Rancho, where his body was discovered, under a pile of his own trash, by a jogger.

Both men were indicted on May 4, 2017 on a series of charges including first-degree murder.

On March 8, 2019, Jacob Johnson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and five other charges. The plea agreement provided for a total sentence of 42 years.

On March 26, 2018, Liam Johnson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. According to his plea agreement, he faced a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison.

District Court Judge Cindy Mercer sentenced both men on May 10. She sentenced Liam Johnson to 15 years in prison, the minimum sentence he faced. She sentenced Jacob Johnson to 28 years in prison. It is not clear what changed between the plea agreement and the amended judgement and sentence, filed on Sept. 19, 2019.

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The incident

Brother Liam and Jacob Johnson had a problem. Their uncle from California, Donald Kalma, was coming between them, Jacob Johnson allegedly said during an interview with Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office detectives on April 21, 2017,  Detective Frank Tomlinson wrote in a statement of probable cause for the arrest of both brothers.

Liam Johnson

On the evening of April 20, 2017, the brothers allegedly discussed the disruption Kalma was causing to their relationship and what do about it.

“After a long discussion, it was decided that Jacob and the defendant would kill Mr. Kalma by possibly stabbing or beating him to death,” Tomlinson wrote. “In the early morning of April 21, 2017 the defendant (Liam Johnson) and Jacob arrived at the residence of Mr. Kalma and as Jacob waited outside the entry to Mr. Kalma ‘s apartment, the defendant entered the residence with the intent of stabbing Mr. Kalma.”

When Liam Johnson entered Kalma’s room, a loft in the garage of the family complex that consisted of two houses, he woke up and mistook him for another member of the family, although who exactly is not listed.

“The defendant (Liam Johnson) aborted the knife attack and lured Mr. Kalma outside the residence,” Tomlinson wrote. “The defendant left, followed by Mr. Kalma. As Mr. Kalma exited the door, Jacob described striking him in the back of the head with such force it ‘dropped him like a sack of potatos (sic).'”

Jacob Johnson allegedly said he used a three-pound sledge hammer to hit Kalma in the back of the head. As Kalma lay on the ground, gurgling, Jacob Johnson allegedly said he struck his uncle two to three more times in the head.

“The defendant (Liam Johnson) and Jacob moved the body of Mr. Kalma to the east side of the residence where Mr. Kalma began to ‘gurgle’ once more,” Tomlinson wrote. “At this time the defendant (Liam Johnson) retrieved the sledgehammer and struck him two or three additional times in the head.”

Jacob Johnson allegedly said he loaded up Kalma’s body into the back of Kalma’s 1972 Ford F100 truck, along with pallets and a garbage bag filled with soda cans that Kalma collected. Once they reached a ravine area, they allegedly tossed his body down, along with the pallets and bag of trash.

“The 3lb sledgehammer was ‘tossed’ away from the body as both parties drove away from the scene,” Tomlinson wrote. “Jacob described the events as ‘justified’ due to Mr. Kalma’s constant disruptions and his ‘coming between brothers.’ Jacob and the defendant (Liam Johnson) stated he believed killing Mr. Karma was going to be a ‘bonding’ activity.”

Jacob Johnson

On the afternoon of April 21, 2017, after the Johnson brothers allegedly dumped their uncle’s body in the ravine, a jogger found it and called 911 at 12:29 p.m. in Rio Rancho.

Officers found Kalma’s body had a wood pallet covering it, a few “squirt” soda cans and sheet metal screws, a gold Allen wrench and a nail.

“It appeared that these items possibly could have fallen out of a vehicle used to transport the body to the location,” Tomlinson wrote. “A few feet further down the road at an intersection was located a small handheld sledge hammer that appeared to have suspected blood on it.”

The pathologist found a large wound to the back of his head and other contusions on his head.

Detectives then headed to the family property Kalma had been living at in Bernalillo, in the 900 block of North Camino Del Pueblo.

“Investigating officers obtained consent to look around the property,” Tomlinson wrote. “The property contained two family dwellings and a detached garage with a loft where Mr. Kalma lived.”

On the property they found Kalma’s blue truck and saw the bed had recently been washed out, but there still appeared to be blood in the puddles of water in the back.

“A sheet metal screw matching the ones found at the crime scene was observed in the back of the truck,” Tomlinson wrote. “Wood or bark were also seen in and around the truck and one yellow ‘Squirt’ soft drink can was inside the bed of the truck as well.”

In addition, officers found a wooden fence that allegedly matched the wooden fencing found near Kalma’s body, as well as plastic trash bags with red draw strings which matched the ones found with his body, he wrot.

“Investigating officers also located suspected blood on a property building,” Tomlinson wrote.

Tomlinson had Jacob Johnson come to the Sheriff’s Office with him, read him his Miranda rights and the Jacob Johnson allegedly told Tomlinson about the killing, he wrote.

Below is the statement of probable cause for Jacob Johnson’s arrest.

 

Statement of probable cause for Jacob Johnson's arrest dated 4-24-2017

 

Indictment, plea and sentence

A grand jury indicted Liam Johnson and Jacob Johnson on May 4, 2017.

Both men were indicted on charges of:

  • First-degree murder
  • Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder
  • Aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon
  • Thee counts of tampering with evidence

Pleas

Liam Johnson

Liam Johnson was the first brother to sign a plea agreement, on March 7, 2018, although the document was not filed with the clerks office until March 29, 2018. District Court Judge Cindy Mercer signed the agreement on March 26, 2018.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

According to the plea, he faced a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised probation. The plea agreement was conditioned on his cooperation in the prosecution of his brother.

Jacob Johnson

A year later, Jacob Johnson signed a plea agreement, on March 4, 2019, along with prosecutor Jessica Martinez and his defense attorney, Marie Legrand Miller. The judge’s signature District Court Judge Cindy Mercer’s does not have a date. The plea agreement is time stamped by the clerks office on March 8, 2019 at 1:51 p.m.

A criminal information for Jacob Johnson was filed on March 4, 2019, charging him with three counts of tampering with evidence. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and six counts of tampering with evidence. The aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon charge was dropped.

According to the terms of the plea, Jacob Johnson was to serve a 42-year sentence, with the various six counts of tampering with evidence running consecutive to one another.

Sentencing

Jacob and Liam Johnson were both sentenced on May 10, 2019, by District Court Judge Cindy Mercer.

According to an amended judgement, sentence and commitment, Mercer sentenced Jacob Johnson to 28 years in prison. It is not clear what changed between the plea agreement and the amended judgement and sentence, filed on Sept. 19, 2019.

She sentenced Liam Johnson to 15 years in prison, the minimum allowed under his plea deal.

See the documents on Google Drive.