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

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

Read the case write-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The crash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danae and Darely Sosa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the case documents on DocumentCloud.

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

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

 

The incident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Released on own recognizance

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

Prosecutors move for indefinite detention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Held without bail pending trial

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

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

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

Danae and Darely Sosa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the case documents on DocumentCloud.

Past stories

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

Case documents

Santa Fe man sentenced to 12 years for fatal DWI crash

Editor’s Note: This story published late, eight months after sentencing, because court records were not previously available.

Read the case write up

SANTA FE, N.M. — Paulo Vega-Mendoza will spend 12 years in prison for crashing into motorcyclist Paul Padilla and killing him, in 2017.

Paulo Vega-Mendoza

District Court Judge T. Glenn Ellington sentenced Vega-Mendoza, 25, of Santa Fe, to 12 years followed by three years of supervised probation on Sept. 27, 2019. He had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of DWI vehicular homicide on April 29, 2019, under a plea signed by prosecutor Blake Nichols.

Ellington gave Vega-Mendoza credit for 792 days served, just over two years, for time spent in jail and on electronic monitoring prior sentencing.

Vega-Mendoza ran into the back of Padilla’s motorcycle, April 15, 2017, on Airport Road in Santa Fe. He fled from the scene and then crashed his own car, a Dodge Neon. It landed on its hood.

Witnesses, and then officers, allegedly chased Vega-Mendoza on foot before he tried to climb and fence and it broke, throwing him backward.

Padilla, 63,  died from extensive brain injuries on April 25, 2017.

For more details, please see the summary of the case.

Do you have information about this case? NM Homicide needs your assistance. Please fill out this form.

Continue reading “Santa Fe man sentenced to 12 years for fatal DWI crash”

Autopsy reports: Fatal crash victims had methamphetamine in system, high BAC

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The autopsy reports for the two people killed in a car wreck in October 2018 shows they both had been drinking and consumed methamphetamine before the crash.

Zuni Pueblo, eastern edge. Photo by Joseph Novak/Flickr

Their drinking and methamphetamine use was cited by federal prosecutor Frederick Mendenhall as the reason for the sentence he gave Joey Unkestine in a plea deal: 3 years and 10 months.

Joey Unkestine killed his girlfriend, Katherine Edaakie, his brother, Elison Unkestine and injured Edaakie’s child, referred to in court documents as D.G., when he crashed a 2002 Ford Explorer on Oct. 18, 2018, on Highway 53 on the Zuni Pueblo.

On June 20, 2019, Joey Unkestine pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of child endangerment. On Oct. 18, 2019, the 1-year anniversary of the crash, Joey Unkestine was sentenced to 3 years and 10 months in prison, per a plea agreement signed by Mendenhall. Federal Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter accepted the plea. Federal District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl entered the sentence.

According to the plea agreement and a sentencing memorandum written by Mendenhall, Joey Unkestine’s blood-alcohol level was later measured at 0.36 and he was estimated to be driving between 74 and 93 mph on a 55-mph-limit road.

Because the two people in the car were drinking, their deaths do not warrant a sentence at the top of the sentencing range, citing United States v Lente. However, the child being placed in danger did warrant the lengthier sentence, as did his history with alcohol, Mendenhall wrote in the sentencing memorandum:

The two adult victims in this case had been drinking in the vehicle. Both of their deaths are tragic, but the circumstances of this case suggest an upward departure or variance is not necessarily warranted.

According to Edaakie’s autopsy report, she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 and methamphetamine in her system.

Continue reading “Autopsy reports: Fatal crash victims had methamphetamine in system, high BAC”

3 years, 10 months prison for Zuni Pueblo man who killed girlfriend, brother in DUI crash

  • Joey Unkestine crashed his car on Oct. 18, 2018, killing 2 people
  • Prosecutor Frederick Mendenhall set Joey Unkestine’s sentence at 3 years 10 months in a binding plea deal
  • Unkestine had a history of alcohol-related convictions
  • Mendenhall: Killing two people did not warrant a heftier sentence

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

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Oct. 18, 2019, the 1-year anniversary of the day he rolled his Ford Explorer, killing his girlfriend, his brother and injuring his girlfriend’s 9-year-old son, Joey Unkestine received a three year and 10 month sentence.

The sentence was no surprise. When Unkestine pleaded guilty on June 20, 2019, to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of child endangerment, federal prosecutor Frederick Mendenhall had already agreed to the binding sentence when he brought it to Federal Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter, who initially accepted the plea, but deferred final acceptance to the sentencing judge.

Ultimately, Federal District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl issued the sentence, which only carried two years of probation. Mendenhall asked for three.

According to the plea agreement and a sentencing memorandum written by Mendenhall, Unkestine crashed a 2002 Ford Explorer on Highway 53 on the Zuni Pueblo on Oct. 18, 2018, killing his girlfriend, Katherine Edaakie, his brother, Elison Unkestine, referred to in court documents as K.E. and E.U. and injuring his girlfriend’s son, referred to as D.G. His blood-alcohol level was later measured at 0.35 and he was estimated to be driving between 74 and 93 mph on a 55-mph-limit road. For comparison, the legal-per-se limit is 0.08 and above 0.40 can be fatal.

Opioids and methamphetamine were also found in his system, although he claimed he used no drugs that day. The brother and girlfriend had also been drinking while he was driving. D.G. received “only scrapes and bruises,” Mendenhall wrote.

Unkestine had several prior convictions “involving alcohol” but all of them were tribal, Mendenhall wrote.

Continue reading “3 years, 10 months prison for Zuni Pueblo man who killed girlfriend, brother in DUI crash”

Paulo Vega-Mendoza pleads to vehicular homicide with no agreement to sentence

See the full case write-up here

SANTA FE, N.M. — Paulo Vega-Mendoza, of Santa Fe, will spend up to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty, April 29, to a single count of DWI vehicular homicide for a drunken crash that killed motorcyclist Paul Padilla, 63.

Paulo Vega-Mendoza

According to the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the other charge he was facing, leaving the scene of an accident causing great bodily harm or death. However, there is no agreement on a sentence, which means District Court Judge T. Glenn Ellington could sentence him to the maximum: 15 years.

Ellington set the sentencing hearing for Sept. 27, 2019.

Vega-Mendoza ran into the back of Padilla’s motorcycle, April 15, 2017, on Airport Road in Santa Fe. He fled from the scene and then crashed his own car, a Dodge Neon. It landed on its hood.

Witnesses, and then officers, allegedly chased Vega-Mendoza on foot before he tried to climb and fence and it broke, throwing him backward.

Padilla died from extensive brain injuries on April 25, 2017.

For more details, please see the summary of the case.

Continue reading “Paulo Vega-Mendoza pleads to vehicular homicide with no agreement to sentence”

Joey Unkestine: Elison Unkestine, Katherine Edaakie — 10-18-2018

  • Suspect: Joey Unkestine
  • Victim: Katherine Edaakie (Joey Unkestine’s girlfriend)
  • Victim: Elison Unkestine (Joey Unkestine’s brother)
  • Non-fatal victim: A child, D.G., 9 (Edaakie’s son)
  • Date of incident: Oct. 18, 2018
  • Charges: Two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of child endangerment
  • Status: Guilty plea to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment; binding plea agreement; sentenced
  • Sentence: 3 years, 10 months followed by 2 years probation, per plea agreement
  • Investigating agency: Unknown
  • Location: Highway 53, Zuni Pueblo, McKinley County
  • Magistrate case number: None
  • District case number: 19-cr-0094
  • Prosecutor: Frederick Mendenhall
  • Plea judge (magistrate): Jerry Ritter
  • Sentencing judge (district): Scott Skavdahl

 

Summary

On Oct. 18, 2018, Joey Unkestine crashed a 2002 Ford Explorer on Highway 53 on the Zuni Pueblo, killing his brother, Elison Unkestine and his girlfriend, Katherine Edaakie and injuring his girlfriend’s son (D.G.). He was allegedly drunk.

His blood-alcohol level was later measured at 0.35 and he was estimated to be driving between 74 and 93 mph on a 55-mph-limit road.

He pleaded guilty and per a binding plea deal, District Judge Scott Skavdahl sentenced Unkestine on Oct. 18, 2019, to the three years, 10 months in prison.

The incident

Joey Unkestine was driving between 74 and 93 mph on Highway 53 on the Zuni Pueblo, after he had been drinking extensively, when he rolled his 2002 Ford Explorer, killing his girlfriend and brother and injuring his girlfriend’s 9-year-old son, D.G., according to his plea agreement.

Zuni Pueblo, eastern edge. Photo by Joseph Novak/Flickr

According to a sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutor Frederick Mendenhall, testing would later show Unkestine’s blood-alcohol content to be 0.36. For comparison, the legal-per-se limit is 0.08 and above 0.40 can be fatal.

Opioids and methamphetamine were also found in his system, although he claimed he used no drugs that day. The brother and girlfriend had also been drinking while he was driving. D.G. received “only scrapes and bruises,” Mendenhall wrote.

Unkestine had several prior convictions “involving alcohol” but all of them were tribal, Mendenhall wrote.

Indictment

On March 18, 2019, a grand jury indicted Unkestine on two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of child endangerment, according to the indictment.

Plea

On June 20, 2019, Unkestine pleaded guilty to the charges. Mendenhall and defense attorney Irma Rivas signed the plea deal. Federal Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter accepted the binding plea agreement.

According to the plea agreement, Unkestine would only receive a sentence of three years, 10 months, with probation up to the sentencing judge. Ultimately, he received two years of probation when prosecutors asked for three.

According to Mendenhall’s sentencing memorandum, three years, 10 months is the “upper-guideline sentence” and reflects the seriousness of the offense.

Because the two people in the car were drinking, their deaths do not warrant a sentence at the top of the sentencing range. However, the child being placed in danger did warrant the lengthier sentence, as did his history with alcohol, he wrote.

Mendenhall did not write why, specifically, he agreed to a three year sentence for the deaths of two people, one of which left a child without his mother. However, he noted that both he and the defense minimized the uncertainty that comes with a trial.

Sentence

Federal District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl sentenced Unkestine on Oct. 18, 2019, to the three years, 10 months stipulated in the plea agreement and two years probation, a year less than requested by the prosecutor, according to the sentencing minute sheet.

No investigative documents appear in the court record.

Improperly sealed documents?

According to the local rules and federal rules, documents are only supposed to be filed under seal for good reason and a record of the motion to file a document under seal is supposed to appear on the court docket, as outlined by Jeff Proctor in New Mexico In Depth.

According to Mendenhall’s sentencing memorandum, the only document that was docketed but is not public is #27, the pre-sentencing investigation report by the probation department.

However, according to the docket, entry 28 was also sealed, as were 30 and 31. In addition, documents 34-36 appear to be sealed with no motions for sealing and no record of sealing, a process which is supposed to warrant a judge’s approval.

According to Sealing Court Records and Proceedings: A Pocket Guide, “(there) should be a public record of what is sealed and why, consistent with the reason for sealing.”

Autopsies

According to Edaakie’s autopsy report, she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 and methamphetamine in her system.

According to Elison Unkestine’s autopsy report, his blood-alcohol level was 0.14 and he also had methamphetamine in his system.

Office of the Medical Investigator Field Investigator Maria Olivares wrote, in a field investigation, the SUV was heavily damaged and Elison Unkestine had been ejected from it and his right hand was amputated.

In Edaakie’s field investigation, Olivares found Edaakie’s body was in the east-bound lane.

 

See the documents on Google Drive

Paulo Vega-Mendoza: Paul Padilla — 4-15-2017

 

Summary

An allegedly drunk Paulo Vega-Mendoza allegedly crashed into the back of the motorcycle Paul Padilla, 63, was driving on April 15, 2017 on Airport Road in Santa Fe.

Vega-Mendoza allegedly fled from the scene, after he allegedly crashed own car, a Dodge Neon. It landed on its hood.

Witnesses, and then officers, allegedly chased Vega-Mendoza on foot before he tried to climb and fence and it broke, throwing him backward.

Padilla died from extensive brain injuries on April 25, 2017.

The incident

Santa Fe Police Department Officer Erasmo Montijo came across a motorcycle versus car crash on April 15. He called it in as soon as he arrived, at 5:44 p.m. He reported several witnesses were chasing the alleged driver in the accident north on Camino de Jacobo, Officer Michael Flores wrote in a statement of probable cause for Paulo Vega-Mendoza’s arrest.

At the scene of the crash, Flores found that the motorcyclist, Paul Padilla, was alive. He was flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital following the crash with extensive brain damage. He died April 25, 2017, 10 days later.

Witnesses told Flores that the motorcycle rolled, finally coming to a stop on top of Padilla.

Paulo Vega-Mendoza

Witness Mary Prone allegedly told officers she was driving east on Airport Road in the right lane and the motorcycle was in front of her and switched from the right to left lanes.

“Ms. Prones observed another vehicle, a Dodge Neon, pass her and did not brake,” Flores wrote. “The Dodge Neon struck the motorcycle from behind.”

Another witness, Margaret Johnson, said she was in the left lane and heard the Neon revving its engine and speeding.

“The Neon passed her in the right lane and cut in front of her to the left lane,” he wrote. “The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed and struck the motorcycle.”

After hitting the motorcycle, Vega-Mendoza’s Neon rolled, coming to rest on its hood.

“Mr. Vega-Mendoza then exited the vehicle and fled the scene,” Flores wrote. “Mr. Vega-Mendoza did not render aid or give immediate notice of an accident prior to leaving the scene.”

Montijo followed Vega-Mendoza as he allegedly fled on foot, north on Camino de Jacobo. He was being chased by several people.

“Officer Jared Alire and I jumped the fence and were in the backyard of a residence on Acequia Borrada,” Flores wrote. “On Acequia Borrada a male pointed to the west and stated ‘He ran that way.'”

Alire and Flores scaled a fence and found themselves in the same back yard as Vega-Mendoza as he allegedly tried to climb the fence opposite.

“As I finished negotiating the fence I observed the fence the male was pulling himself onto had broke and the male fell backwards to the ground,” Flores wrote. “Officer Alire then placed the male into handcuffs.”

While talking to Vega-Mendoza, Flores could allegedly smell alcohol coming from his breath. He also noticed alleged bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred speech.

After being read the implied consent act, Vega-Mendoza refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test. Flores later got a search warrant for the blood and the draw was done at 7:25 p.m.

He was arrested on charges of:

  • DWI great bodily harm
  • Knowingly leaving the scene of an accident causing great bodily harm or death
  • Failure to give notice of an accident
  • Criminal damage to property under $1,000
PC - Paulo Vega-Mendoza - 4-20-2017

 

Indictment and Plea deal

On July 7, 2017, he was indicted on charges of:

  • DWI vehicular homicide
  • knowingly leaving the scene of an accident causing great bodily harm or death
Judge's portrait
First Judicial District Judge T. Glenn Ellington

A summons was issued for him to appear on July 24, 2017, and he pleaded not guilty.

On April 29, Vega-Mendoza pleaded guilty to one count of DWI vehicular homicide and, according to the plea deal signed by prosecutor Blake Nichols, prosecutors agreed to drop the charge of knowingly leaving the scene of an accident. First Judicial District Court Judge T. Glenn Ellington accepted the plea.

However, according to the plea, there was no agreement as to the sentence and the maximum was 15 years.

Sentenced

Ellington sentenced Vega-Mendoza to 12 years in prison followed by three years supervised probation on Sept. 27, 2019, according to the judgement and sentence.

Vega-Mendoza received credit for 792 days served, just over two years, for time spent in jail and on electronic monitoring prior sentencing.

See the case documents on Google Drive. or Document Cloud

Dominic Friedlein: Stefan Siegmann — 4-9-2017

  • Suspect: Dominic Friedlein
  • Victim: Stefan Siegmann, 29
  • Charges: DWI vehicular homicide and two counts of DWI great bodily harm
  • Status: Guilty plea to DWI vehicular homicide
  • Sentence: 3 years: 354 days in jail, 1 year on electronic monitoring and 1 year credit for time served
  • Date of incident: April 9, 2017
  • Agency: Santa Fe Police Department
  • Location: Saint Francis Drive and San Mateo Road, Santa Fe
  • Magistrate case number: M-49-FR-2017-00410
  • District case number: D-101-CR-201700354

 

Summary

Dominic Friedlein allegedly turned left in front of another car, causing a crash that killed one of the two people traveling with him on April 9, 2017 in Santa Fe.

He was arrested following the arrest on charges of DWI vehicular homicide and two counts of DWI great bodily harm.

He was originally set to have a preliminary hearing on April 19, but it was postponed for reasons unlisted in the court record.

On May 5, 2017, he was indicted on the same charges.

On Jan. 2, 2018, he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and prosecutors dismissed the two counts of DWI great bodily harm as part of the plea agreement, which capped his sentence at three years. District Court Judge T. Glenn Ellington sentenced him to three years, with credit of one year time served, 354 days in jail and followed by one year on electronic monitoring.

The incident

On April 9, 2017, Dominic Friedlein was allegedly driving a silver Toyota 4Runner with his friends, Stefan Siegmann, 29, and Hanna Young.

Siegmann died from head trauma. Young’s injuries were not listed, although she identified Friedlein as the driver.

Friedlein was allegedly driving north on Saint Francis Drive, approaching San Mateo Road, when he took a left onto San Mateo, Santa Fe Police Officer Heinz De Luca wrote in a statement of probable cause for Friedlein’s arrest.

De Luca interviewed Friedlein following the crash.

Dominic Friedlein

“According to Mr. Friedlein, before entering the intersection, he observed a silver, 2009 Chevrolet approaching the intersection on the southbound side of Saint Francis Drive,” De Luca wrote. “Mr. Friedlein added that he thought he had enough time and initiated a left turn. Upon entering the intersection on a green light it appeared to him as if the approaching vehicle was not going fast then it sped up and struck his vehicle on the right front side.”

Friedlein allegedly admitted to drinking three beers at the Second Street Brewery and De Luca alleged that his eyes were bloodshoot and he smelled like alcohol.

After conducting a field sobriety test, De Luca alleged Friedlein was impaired to the slightest degree, the legal test for intoxicated driving in New Mexico.

The people in the Chevy, Pamela Reyes, suffered nasty injuries. Driver Pamela Reyes had two broken wrists and three broken ribs while her 7-year-old son Jose Chavez has a fractured eye socket and an internal nose bleed.

After arresting Friedlein, the officer applied for a search warrant for the man’s blood, which was granted. The blood was taken at the Christus St. Vincent Medical Center in Santa Fe.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed later by a prosecutor, his blood-alcohol level was 0.12.

He was originally set to have a preliminary hearing on April 19, but it was postponed for reasons unlisted in the court record.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutor Johnn Osborn, Reyes was driving 64 mph in a 45 mph zone up to one second before she slammed into the 4Runner Friedlein was driving. She braked, bringing her impact speed down to 45 mph.

Osborn wrote that Freidlein told an officer at the scene,

“I had three beers on an empty stomach, someone else should’ve drove, I ruined my life today … How do you not blame yourself for something like this, I killed someone today.”

PC - Dominic Friedlein - 4-10-2017

Indictment, plea and sentence

On May 4, 2017, a Santa Fe grand jury indicted Freidlein on charges of:

  • DWI vehicular homicide
  • Two counts of DWI great bodily harm

Plea

On Jan. 2, 2018, Freidlein pleaded guilty to DWI vehicular homicide for Seigmann’s death.

Judge's portrait
First Judicial District Judge T. Glenn Ellington

According to the plea agreement, Freidlein’s sentence would be capped at three years in prison followed by some term of supervised probation. In addition, the maximum sentence of 15 years would be imposed, but it would be suspended, so if Freidlein violated his probation, he could face much of the original maximum sentence.

According to prosecutor Johnn Osborn’s sentencing memorandum, Seigmann’s family wanted Freidlein to serve an additional year in custody, not counting the time he already spent in jail pending trial.

Seigmann was born in Austria to a mother from West Texas and a father from the Austrian Alps. He was a “central figure” in his extended family and his parents’ only child, Osborn wrote.

“He loved to plan ‘Cousins Weekend’ and family get-togethers and was lovingly known as ‘Muffin’ to the younger kids in the family,” Osborn wrote.

He was also a skilled skier and helped coach the Santa Fe Ski Team with his father, he wrote.

“From 2012 through 2017, Stefan and his father guided the Santa Fe Ski Team to national recognition,” Osborn wrote.

Before his death Seigmann planned to move to Flagstaff, Ariz. to “complete his education in Nursing.” He worked as a surgical technician at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, he wrote.

On April 18, 2018, First Judicial District Court Judge T. Glenn Ellington sentenced Freidlein to three years, with some caveats:

  • He received credit for 374 days spent in jail or on electronic monitoring pending trial
  • Ellington ordered he serve 354 days in jail and not earn good time and
  • He spend 365 days on electronic monitoring following his release from jail

View the documents on Google Drive.