Judge dismisses one hit-and-run charge for man accused of killing woman, her infant, west of Gallup

• A judge dismissed one of the two counts of knowingly leaving the scene of a crash causing death
Jagjeet Singh does not have a case in district court yet, even though he was bound over on March 4, 2021
• SP Agent Larry Reuter said in court documents that Singh admitted to running over Jessica Ann Copey and her infant child on Jan. 19, 202

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

GALLUP — A magistrate judge bound over an Indiana man on a single charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing death, as well as drug charges, for allegedly running over a woman and her infant near Gallup and then fleeing the scene.

Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados bound over Jagjeet Singh, 24, of Indianapolis, to district court on additional charges of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance: heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Singh is charged for allegedly killing Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai, and her unnamed infant on Jan. 19, 2021 in a hit-and-run on Interstate 40, west of Gallup

Mug shot of Jagjeet Singh in case M-35-FR-2021-0021
Jagjeet Singh

Casados held the preliminary examination on March 3 and entered her order binding him over on the charges the following day.

Singh has neither been arraigned in district court, nor has a district court case been created, as of March 20, according to district court records.

Casados’ order does not say why she did not find probable cause for the second count of knowingly leaving the scene of an accident causing death, which carries a maximum sentence of six years.

The two drug possession charges appear in the court record as “IMPROPER STATUTORY CITATION,” including in Casados’ order.

If convicted on all the remaining charges, Singh could face a maximum sentence of nine years, if he received the maximum on each and the sentences were ordered to be served consecutively, or one after the other.

Singh is living with his family in Indiana. He had been ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet but the monitoring company ran out and the defense, with the prosecution’s assent, requested he only be required to call his pre-trial monitors once a week, which Casados granted.

State Police Agent Larry Reuter charged Singh a day after a State Police officer found the bodies of Copey and her infant in the median. The infant was in a car seat, State Police Officer Dusty Francisco wrote in a press release. McKinley County Sheriff’s deputies had been alerted shortly before to a woman walking on the interstate.

Reuter wrote in an amended statement of probable cause for Singh’s arrest that Singh admitted to hitting someone, after Reuter read him his Miranda rights. Singh has requested an interpreter for his court case and Reuter made no mention of reading him his Miranda rights in any language other than English or that Singh had, or did not have, trouble understanding him. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

When State Police officers searched his truck, they found heroin and methamphetamine, Reuter wrote.

For more on the incident, see the case write-up.

See the case files on Document Cloud or Google Drive.

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Jagjeet Singh: Jessica Ann Copey, unnamed infant — 1-19-2021

  • Suspect: Jagjeet Singh
  • Victim: Jessica Ann Copey, 24
  • Victim: Unnamed infant
  • Date of incident: Jan. 19, 2021
  • Charges: One count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, one count of possession of a controlled substance: heroin, one count of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia; an additional count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death was dismissed by a judge.
  • Status: Bound over to district court; no district court case created yet
  • Investigating Agency: State Police
  • Investigator: Larry Reuter
  • Incident Location: Interstate 40 near mile marker 15, west of Gallup
  • Judicial District: 11th Judicial District
  • Prosecuting agency:  11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Div. II
  • Prosecutor: Unknown
  • Defense attorney: David Serna
  • Magistrate case number: M-35-FR-2021-0021
  • Magistrate Judge: Pat Casados
  • District Case number: n/a

Summary

On Jan. 19, 2021, truck driver Jagjeet Singh, 24, of Indianapolis, allegedly ran over Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai, and her infant who was in a car seat, as she walked on I-40, then parked at a truck stop until police arrested him the next day.

Although an investigators wrote that Singh waived his Miranda rights and admitted to running over someone, he has also requested an interpreter in court proceedings and there is no indication that an interpreter read him his rights. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie released him on an unsecured $100,000 bond following his first appearance on Jan. 21, 2021. Magistrate Judge Pat Casados dismissed one charge of knowingly leaving the scene of a crash and bound him over to district court following a preliminary examination on March 3, 2021.

The incident

On Jan. 19, 2021, around 9:30 p.m., the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a woman walking east on Interstate 40, around mile marker 15, west of Gallup. A “short time later,” a State Police officer driving that way saw a large object, a shoe and debris from a vehicle in the road and in the median. A deputy then arrived and they both discovered, in the median, the body of Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai and her infant, also dead, in a car seat, State Police Officer Dusty Francisco wrote in a press release.

Mug shot of Jagjeet Singh in case M-35-FR-2021-0021
Jagjeet Singh

Investigators “learned” that Copey was carrying her child in the car seat while walking in the left lane of I-40 when he was hit by a tractor-trailer, who did not stop. An attempt to locate the driver was broadcast to state and local law enforcement agencies. On Jan. 20, 2021, a day later, a McKinley County Sheriff’s deputy located a tractor-trailer with heavy front-end damage parked at the Flying J’s Truck Stop nears Jamestown, Francisco wrote.

In an amended statement of probable cause for Jagjeet Singh’s arrest, State Police Agent Larry Reuter wrote that state police officers recovered a blue bumper and a headlight where Copey and the child were killed. Singh, 24, is from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Reuter wrote that State Police arrives “arrived” at the truck stop and saw Singh’s vehicle, which was missing the bumper and headlight, which matched those found on the interstate. Jagjeet Singh and his passenger, Gurcharan Singh, were “detained” and brought to the State Police office in Gallup.

Gurcharan Singh told Reuter that he received a call from Jagjeet Singh at 12:10 a.m., Jan. 20, that he hit a deer and he needed help to replace his headlight. Gurcharan Singh was headed west on I-40 and stopped at the gas station, Reuter wrote.

“Gurcharan told me he was not told anything about Jagjeet hitting a person,” Reuter wrote.

Reuter wrote that he then interrogated Jagjeet Singh, after reading him his Miranda rights. Reuter made no mention of reading him his Miranda rights in any language other than English or that Jagjeet Singh had, or did not have, trouble understanding him.

In court documents, Jagjeet Singh indicated he needs a Punjabi interpreter. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he knew he hit someone who had long, white hair, Reuter wrote.

“Jagjeet confirmed he had observed the person walking from North side of the median and walking Southbound across the highway,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet told me he took the exit at mile marker 16, stopped and looked in his mirror but could not see anyone in his mirror. Jagjeet never called the police and did not stop to look for the person he hit.”

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he called his cousin who asked why someone would be walking in the road and suggested he hit an animal instead. He drove to the truck stop, where he stayed until he was arrested, Reuter wrote. The cousin is not identified in court documents.

“Jagjeet drew a diagram of where his CVE was positioned when he struck the female,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet could not give an answer why he did not call the police or attempt to render aid to the victims he hit.”

When agents searched Jagjeet Singh’s tractor-trailer, they found two bags of a brown powder-like substance weighing 34.8 grams and a white crystalline substance weighing 5.6 grams. The drugs were tested, and came back as heroin and methamphetamine although Reuter did not write what kind of test was conducted, by whom or the presumed accuracy.

Field drug tests “routinely” show false-positive results, according to ProPublica.

Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie initially released Jagjeet Singh on a $100,000 unsecured bond at his first appearance on Jan. 21, 2021. He is set to be arraigned on the amended criminal complaint, which added the drug charges, on Feb. 2, 2021, in front of Magistrate Judge Pat Casados. An interpreter is scheduled for that hearing, according to the docket.

Bound over to district court

On March 4, 2021, following a preliminary hearing, Casados bound over Jagjeet Singh on one count each of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, possession of a controlled substance: heroin, possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Casados dismissed one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, according to her order.

As of March 20, 2021, no district court case appeared to have been created for the case and no court dates were set.

See the case files on Document Cloud or Google Drive.

Past stories

Judge dismisses one hit-and-run charge for man accused of killing woman, her infant, west of Gallup

State Police charge Indianapolis man with running over woman, infant, west of Gallup

Luke Griffin: Corrina Vaden — 2-24-2017

  • Suspect: Luke Griffin
  • Victim: Corrina Vaden
  • Non-fatal victim: Kimberley Butcher
  • Non-fatal victim: Elizabeth Rotter
  • Charges: DWI vehicular homicide, two counts of DWI great bodily harm, aggravated DWI, possession of an alcoholic beverage by a minor and open container of alcohol in a vehicle
  • Status: Guilty plea to DWI vehicular homicide, two counts of DWI great bodily harm
  • Sentence: 9 years followed by 5 years supervised probation
  • Date of incident: Feb. 24, 2017
  • Agency: State Police
  • Location: Sandoval County
  • Magistrate case number: M-45-FR-2017-00147
  • District case number: D-1329-CR-2017-00105

 

Summary

While driving in excess of 100 mph on Feb. 24, 2017, Luke Griffin slammed into the back of another car, killing Corrina Vaden and injuring Kimberley Butcher and Elizabeth Rotter. A blood-alcohol test showed a level of 0.22, over twice the legal limit of 0.08.

On March 16, 2017, a grand jury indicted Griffin on charges of DWI vehicular homicide, two counts of DWI great bodily harm, aggravated DWI, possession of an alcoholic beverage by a minor and possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

On Dec. 11, 2017, Griffin pleaded guilty to DWI vehicular homicide and two counts of DWI great bodily harm and, per the plea agreement accepted by District Court Judge Luis P. McDonald, he was to receive a sentence of 9 years and 122 days and be given credit for 122 days time served. None of the crimes were to be considered serious violent offenses, decreasing the amount of time required to serve before being released on probation or parole from 85 percent to 50 percent.

According to the plea, he is also to be on supervised probation for 5 years after his release. He was officially sentenced on Dec. 15, 2017 by McDonald, who, based on the plea, gave him a total sentence of 21 years, but suspended 11 years, for the 9 year sentence.

The incident

Around 11 p.m., Feb. 24, 2017, State Police Officer Larry Reuter was dispatched to Interstate 25 at mile post 252 to investigate a multiple-vehicle crash. Medics were already on the scene, trying to extract two passengers and one of the drivers involved, Reuter wrote in a statement of probable cause for Griffin’s arrest.

Luke Griffin

At 11:21 p.m., Reuter arrived and saw two cars on the shoulder.

He would later learn that Corrina Vaden died and two others, Kimberley Butcher and Elizabeth Rotter, had life-threatening injuries and were taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

The two cars involved were a silver 2004 Audi and a 2014 Nissan, with its roof caved in and parts of the door missing. Griffin was allegedly the driver of the Audi and officers were later find him to be allegedly intoxicated.

“Emergency medical personnel were rendering aid to the driver and passenger of Nissan (Vehicle 2),” Reuter wrote. “The driver of Vehicle 2 was motionless and slumped over in the driver seat.”

One man was walking around, stating he was a witness and that Audi had been driven erratically before the crash.

Another witness, unnamed, said the Audi had been going over 100 mph to pass vehicles on the right shoulder.

“A different witness provided a verbal statement they observed Luke Griffin exit the audi after the crash and throw what appeared to be a liquor bottle over a fence,” Reuter wrote.

After Griffin was cleared by medics, Reuter found him to be stumbling, have bloodshot eyes and he allegedly smelled of alcohol. He also allegedly slurred his speech.

“I asked Luke how many alcoholic beverages he consumed and he stated he drank three beers at approximately 6 00 pm this date,” Reuter wrote.

Reuter then had Griffin do a series of field sobriety tests, which he allegedly did poorly on.

“Based on Luke’s state of intoxication and his safety the SFST’s were terminated,” Reuter wrote, referring to the field sobriety tests.

Reuter took Griffin to the State Police office for a blood-alcohol level test and found the tests were allegedly 0.22, above 0.16, twice the legal-per-se limit. He did not write what the exact measurements were. He then had a blood draw done at the State Police office.

 

The indictment and plea deal

On March 16, 2017, a grand jury indicted Griffin on charges:

  • DWI vehicular homicide
  • aggravated DWI
  • possession of an alcoholic beverage by a minor
  • possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle
  • two counts of DWI great bodily harm
Portrait of District Judge Louis McDonald
Judge Louis McDonald

On Dec. 11, 2017, Griffin pleaded guilty to DWI vehicular homicide and two counts of DWI great bodily harm and, per the plea agreement accepted by District Court Judge Luis McDonald, he was to receive a sentence of 9 years and 122 days and be given credit for 122 days time served. None of the crimes were to be considered serious violent offenses, decreasing the amount of time required to serve before being released on probation or parole from 85 percent to 50 percent.

According to the plea, he is also to be on supervised probation for 5 years after his release. McDonald officially sentenced him on Dec. 15, 2017. McDonald, based on the plea, gave him a total sentence of 21 years, but suspended 11 years, for the 9 year sentence.

View the court documents on Google Drive