Florida man appeals second-degree murder conviction on five grounds

A jury found Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez guilty of second-degree murder for strangling Connie Lopez
• Judge Jarod Hofacket sentenced him to 15 years, the maximum in New Mexico

Read the case write-up catch up on the past stories

DEMING, N.M. —  Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez is appealing his second-degree murder conviction on five grounds, including that holding the trial during a pandemic hampered the transcription of the trial, therefore eliminating his right to a fair trial.

Mug shot of Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez, convicted of second-degree murder for the death of Connie Lopez, 57, of Lake Placid, Fla.
Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez

A jury convicted Lobato-Rodriguez, 57, of the second-degree murder of Connie Lopez, 57, of Lake Placid, Fla., following a four-day trial that ended Aug. 20, 2020. They deliberated for just an hour. He was charged in district court with first-degree murder. District Judge Jarod Hofacket sentenced Lobato-Rodriguez to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence for second-degree murder in New Mexico, during a hearing on Nov. 2, 2020.

On Nov. 10, 2020, Hofacket appointed the public defenders office to appeal Lobato-Rodriguez’s conviction, according to the docket. On Dec. 21, 2020, his attorney, George Harrison, filed a docketing statement with the court of appeals, contending that five issues in the case were grounds for a new trial:

  1. Conducting the trial while adhering to COVID-19 protocols resulted in “the inability to properly transcribe the proceedings,” obviating a fair trial
  2. Hofacket’s multiple denials of motions to suppress evidence
  3. Denial of a mistrial motion after prosecutor Matthew Bradburn commented on Lobato-Rodriguez’s silence after asserting his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent
  4. Hofacket’s “failure to correct critical errors” by the interpreter
  5. Hofacket’s denial of a self-defense jury instruction

Harrison previously motioned for a mistrial on three grounds, repeated in the appeal — the Fifth Amendment statement, the improper interpreting and the denials of motions to suppress. Hofacket denied that motion.

Harrison wrote in the docketing statement that he hired a certified Spanish interpreter to compile a “complete interpretation” of Lobato-Rodriguez’s testimony.

“The interpreter filed an affidavit with the district court,” Harrison wrote. “The affidavit states, among other things, that the quality of the audio recording of Mr. Lobato-Rodriguez’s testimony during trial is so poor that a proper interpretation would not be possible.”

Harrison wrote in the docketing statement and other motions that there was an improper translation, where Lobato-Rodriguez mumbled that he thought the victim told him he would “be dead that day.”

When Hofacket denied the motion, he wrote that the interaction Harrison said happened in fact, did not happen, and he did not understand why the interpreter claimed something happened that he found did not, after he reviewed the audio.

Harrison wrote that the rules for a jury trial during a pandemic meant the jurors were seated in the audience section of the courtroom, the family of the victim, Harrison and Lobato-Rodriguez were in the jury box, with their backs to the jury, and everyone was wearing masks.

Two Spanish interpreters translated during the trial for Lobato-Rodriguez and one juror.

“The COVID rules in effect made for great difficulty hearing potential jurors during voir dire and understanding witnesses called to the stand during trial testimony,” Harrison wrote.

No hearings have been set in the appeal and no responses have been filed by prosecutors.

The killing

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.

According to Lobato-Rodriguez’s trial testimony, Lopez was driving him to his home in Mexico. Lobato-Rodriguez is a Mexican national.

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

Continue reading “Florida man appeals second-degree murder conviction on five grounds”

Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez sentenced to 15 years for killing Florida woman in Hachita

Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez received 15 years for strangling Connie Lopez
• A jury previously found him guilty of second-degree murder, a lesser-included offense of first-degree murder

Read the case write-up catch up on the past stories

DEMING, N.M. — Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez received the maximum sentence for strangling a woman outside Hatchita in 2017, after spending over three years in jail awaiting trial.

Mug shot of Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez, convicted of second-degree murder for the death of Connie Lopez, 57, of Lake Placid, Fla. 4x5 ratio
Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez

A jury found him guilty of the second-degree murder of Connie Lopez, 57, of Lake Placid, Fla., following a four-day trial that ended Aug. 20, 2020. They deliberated for just an hour. He was charged in district court with first-degree murder.

During a hearing on Nov. 2, 2020, District Judge Jarod Hofacket sentenced Lobato-Rodriguez to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence for second-degree murder in New Mexico.

Hofacket gave Lobato-Rodriguez credit for the 3 years, 7 months and 17 days he spent in jail before trial, lowering the amount of time he will have to serve to 11 years, 4 months and 14 days, according to a judgement and sentence.

Lobato-Rodriguez is appealing his conviction and a notice of appeal was filed on Nov. 23, 2020. He is being represented by the appellate division of the Law Office of the Public Defender.

Mistrial motion denied

Lobato-Rodriguez’s attorney, George Harrison, previously asked for a reconsideration of the guilty verdict on three grounds:

  • 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.

Hofacket denied that motion to reconsider, noting that he had previously been asked to consider each of the motions individually and previously denied all three.

The judge took issue with assertion by Harrison that Lobato-Rodriguez used the phrase “be dead that day.” He wrote:

“The interpreter informed the Court that she had heard the Defendant say something along the lines of ‘because you’ll be dead’ in reference to why he would not see the mountain again. She stated that she did not understand what he said and asked him to repeat his response. When he repeated his response, he did not make that statement.
In reviewing the Defendant’s trial testimony, this interaction did not occur. The Court is at a loss to explain why the court appointed interpreter would assert that it did. All of the testimony regarding the mountain, on direct and on cross is transcribed (unofficially from the audio recording) above.”

Hofacket wrote that the blame appears to fall with Harrison, when the interpreter was questioned by the judge and the two attorneys. He wrote:

“Defense counsel stated that it was his understanding that the victim said ‘you’re going to be dead.’ Only then did the interpreter change her testimony from the direct response to the Court’s question and said that she did hear the Defendant say something along the lines that he was going to be dead, but that he mumbled, so she asked for the Defendant to repeat himself.
This did not occur and the interpreter’s recollection of the trial testimony is incorrect.”

Continue reading “Isaias Lobato-Rodriguez sentenced to 15 years for killing Florida woman in Hachita”

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

Read the case write-up

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 Jarod 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”

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”

Police seek suspect in fatal Vado hit-and-run

VADO, N.M. — State Police are looking for the driver of a 1998 tan Chevrolet S-10 truck after the driver allegedly crashed into a motorcyclist, killing him, on May 14, and then fled the scene in Vado, south of Las Cruces.

A stock photo of a tan Chevy S-10 truck
State Police are looking for the driver of a 1998 Chevy S-10 truck, similar to the one pictured here.

Lt. Mark Soriano wrote in a press release the rider, Guy Hanslin, 54, of Mesquiete, died at the scene, at 10581 Los Alturas Street.

“The initial investigation shows a black 2012 Harley Davidson was traveling north on Las Alturas Street,” Soriano wrote. “The driver of a tan 1998 Chevrolet S-10 truck was traveling south on Las Alturas, and for reason unknown turned left striking the Harley Davidson head-on.”

Officers found the truck abandoned at a house in Mesquiete, but are still looking for the driver, he wrote.

Soriano wrote that anyone with information should call State Police at 575-382-2500, option 1.

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Roswell man killed in hit-and-run, State Police asking for help to find the culprit

ARTESIA, N.M. — State Police are asking for the public’s help to identify the person and vehicle that hit and killed a 39-year-old Roswell man on April 11, 2020 on U.S. Highway 82 outside of Artesia.

State Police officers found Jenio Berdoza, 39, had been hit by a vehicle that fled from the scene, on U.S. Highway 82, near mile post 80, State Police Officer Ray Wilson wrote in a press release.

“Berdoza was transported to Artesia General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by the Office of the Medical Investigator,” he wrote.

Berdoza, of Roswell, was walking on the side of the highway when he was hit by the vehicle, which then fled the scene, he wrote.

“If you were a witness or have any information about this crash, you are urged to call the New Mexico State Police at (575) 382-2500 option 1 and tell the dispatcher you have information related to the U.S. Highway 82 hit and run,” Wilson wrote.

See the case write-up or check for updates via the case’s tag.

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Continue reading “Roswell man killed in hit-and-run, State Police asking for help to find the culprit”

Judge gives drunk driver 6 years for killing woman, injuring her two children

  • Mateo Maestas received a 6-year sentence, although prosecutors wanted the max, 8 years, while the defense asked for the minimum, 5 years
  • The judge gave Maestas 60 days of release before going to prison
  • Maestas was arrested a month later for a host of violations, including drinking, and sent to prison

See the case write-up

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mateo Maestas will spend six years in prison after a federal District Court judge sentenced him for killing a Laguna Pueblo woman, and severely injured her two children, in a drunk driving crash.

Federal District Judge Dee Benson

Federal District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Maestas, 22, of Cuba, on Jan. 23, 2020 during a 90-minute hearing in federal District Court in Albuquerque.

Maestas, a member of the Acoma Pueblo, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter on Sept. 9, 2019.  According to the plea deal accepted by federal Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing, prosecutors agreed to a sentence range of five to eight years, called a binding plea. He was originally charged on April 18, 2019, arrested on May 22 and released pending trial on May 29.

Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of eight years, although prosecutor Elisa Dimas claimed he could have faced a much greater sentence, without the plea, for the injuries he caused the woman’s children.

Benson gave Maestas, who had been released to house arrest on May 29, 2019, pending the outcome of his case, 60 days to turn himself into to prison to start serving his sentence, according to the minute sheet.

A month later, he was wanted on a warrant for allegedly violating the conditions of his release.

According to the sentencing minute sheet, Dimas asked for an 8-year sentence during the hearing and Maestas’ defense attorney, Britany Schaffer, asked for a 5-year sentence.

Continue reading “Judge gives drunk driver 6 years for killing woman, injuring her two children”

UNKNOWN: Jenio Berdoza — 4-11-2020

  • Suspect: UNKNOWN/UNSOLVED (hit and run)
  • Victim: Jenio Berdoza, 39
  • Charges: n/a
  • Status: Unsolved; police seeking public’s help in finding suspect
  • Date of incident: April 11, 2020
  • Type of incident: Hit and run
  • Agency: State Police
  • Location: U.S. Highway 82, near mile post 80, outside Artesia, Eddy County
  • Magistrate case number: N/A
  • District case number: N/A

Summary

State Police are asking for the public’s help to identify the person and vehicle that hit and killed a 39-year-old Roswell man on April 11, 2020 on U.S. Highway 82 outside of Artesia.

State Police officers found Jenio Berdoza, 39, had been hit by a vehicle that fled from the scene, on U.S. Highway 82, near mile post 80, State Police Officer Ray Wilson wrote in a press release.

“Berdoza was transported to Artesia General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by the Office of the Medical Investigator,” he wrote.

Berdoza, of Roswell, was walking on the side of the highway when he was hit by the vehicle, which then fled the scene, he wrote.

“If you were a witness or have any information about this crash, you are urged to call the New Mexico State Police at (575) 382-2500 option 1 and tell the dispatcher you have information related to the U.S. Highway 82 hit and run,” Wilson wrote.

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San Diego man killed in hit-and-run after being released from SF County jail

SANTA FE, N.M. — State Police detectives are looking for a 2015 Ford truck, and its driver, which allegedly hit and killed 45-year-old Kevin Poirer around 10 p.m., March 27, 2020, as he walked down Highway 14, near the Santa Fe County Detention Center, which he had just been released from.

Mug shot of Kevin Poirer
Kevin Poirer

The driver of the truck, described as having front end damage and a missing mirror, allegedly fled the scene after hitting Poirer, State Police Officer and spokesman Ray Wilson wrote in a press release.

The truck hit Poirer near near mile post 43, he wrote.

Wilson spelled Poirer’s last name as “Poirier.”

Although Poirer was transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital, he died from his injuries, he wrote.

“The investigation indicates Poirier (sic) was walking south on Highway 14 and was struck by what investigators believe to be a south bound 2015 Ford Pick-up Truck,” Wilson wrote. “After striking Poirier, (sic) the truck fled the scene.  The truck will have front end damage and will be missing a mirror.”

Continue reading “San Diego man killed in hit-and-run after being released from SF County jail”

UNKNOWN: Kevin Poirer — 3-27-2020

  • Suspect: UNKNOWN/UNSOLVED (Driver, 2015 Ford truck, with a missing mirror and front-end damage)
  • Victim: Kevin Poirer
  • Charges: n/a
  • Status: Unsolved; police seeking public’s help in finding suspect
  • Date of incident: March 27, 2020
  • Type of incident: Hit and run
  • Agency: State Police
  • Location: Highway 14, outside Santa Fe County Detention Center, Santa Fe County
  • Magistrate case number: N/A
  • District case number: N/A

 

Summary

Kevin Poirer, 45, of San Diego, was allegedly killed following a hit-and-run near the Santa Fe County Detention Center, on Highway 14, on March 27, 2020, around 10 p.m. State Police are actively seeking the public’s help to find the alleged killer and his or her truck.

The hit and run

According to a press release from Officer and spokesman Ray Wilson, State Police detectives are looking for a 2015 Ford truck, and its driver, which allegedly hit and killed 45-year-old Kevin Poirer around 10 p.m., March 27, 2020, as he walked down Highway 14, near the Santa Fe County Detention Center, which he had just been released from.

Mug shot of Kevin Poirer
Kevin Poirer

The truck fled the scene after hitting Poirer. The truck is described as having front end damage and a missing mirror. The truck hit Poirer near near mile post 43, Wilson wrote.

Wilson spelled Poirer’s last name as “Poirier.”

Although Poirer was transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital, he died from his injuries, he wrote.

“The investigation indicates Poirier (sic) was walking south on Highway 14 and was struck by what investigators believe to be a south bound 2015 Ford Pick-up Truck,” Wilson wrote. “After striking Poirier, (sic) the truck fled the scene.  The truck will have front end damage and will be missing a mirror.”

According to a booking sheet from the Santa Fe County Detention Center, Poirer was booked on March 26 at 2:27 p.m. and released the following day, March 27, at 8:25 p.m., before he was hit around 10 p.m. It is not clear, from State Police, when the initial call was received.

Poirer was booked on a failure-to-appear warrant, according to the booking sheet.

According to a court docket, Poirer was initially arrested on a charge of breaking and entering on Dec. 9, 2019.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Poirer allegedly “pried open the doors to a Best Western hotel,” where police found him inside, and he told police he “just wanted to warm up.

Jail staff refused to admit him to the jail because of “severely infected” arm wounds, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Wilson wrote that anyone with information should call State Police at (505) 841-9256, option 0, and tell the dispatcher they have “information related to the Highway 14 hit and run.”

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See the current case documents on Google Drive.

Acoma Pueblo man pleas in fatal DWI crash, to get 5-8 year sentence

  • Mateo Maestas drunkenly crashed into an unidentified Laguna Pueblo woman’s car on April 19, 2019, killing her
  • The binding plea deal mandates his sentence will be between 5-8 years
  • In secret court documents, federal prosecutor Elisa Dimas asked for Maestas to receive either the maximum sentence or one greater than allowed under his plea deal

Read the full case summary

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 22-year-old Acoma Pueblo man is tentatively set to be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2020, for an April 2019 crash that killed a woman and injured her two children on the Laguna Pueblo.

Laguna Pueblo as seen from I-40. Photo by Ken Lund/Flickr

Mateo Maestas pleaded guilty to a single count of involuntary manslaughter on Sept. 5, 2019. According to the plea deal, accepted by federal Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing, the sentencing judge is bound to sentence Maestas to five to eight years in prison. Eight years is the maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter. He was previously indicted on the manslaughter charge on June 12, 2019.

According to an order continuing his sentencing hearing, Federal District Court Judge James Browning is set to sentence Maestas at 8:30 a.m., Jan. 17, 2020 in Federal District Court in Albuquerque.

In preparation for the sentencing hearing, his attorney, Britany Schaffer, filed a 15-page sentencing memorandum on Dec. 31, 2019.

She wrote that Maestas drove because his friends left him at his car following a minor argument.

“He made a terrible error in attempting to drive back to safety, one for which he will be haunted by for the rest of his life,” Schaffer wrote. “He called out for help to one of his loved ones, but he was too far away to be able to help.”

Schaffer does not write how Maestas was in danger, or what he was in danger from, that he needed to drive, drunk, to safety, or what safety he was trying to drive toward.

The presentence report, which isn’t public, suggested a sentence of 2 1/2 to 3 years, she wrote.

Schaffer wrote that she wants Browning to give Maestas a sentence at the low end of the plea agreement.

“Mr. Maestas has a criminal history of zero: that is, prior to this case, he has never been convicted of a crime, other than a single speeding ticket,” she wrote. “He is young, hard-working and educated, and aspires to help others in his future as he has been doing during his counseling sessions while this case has been pending.”

He is the grandson of Wilson Joe Chiquito, who was killed in his home. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into his killing is still unsolved.

“Although there is no excuse for his actions on the date of the accident, Mr. Maestas was heavily impacted by the loss of his grandfather, and, at the time when this accident occurred, he had unfortunately fallen into a pattern of using alcohol in an unhealthy manner. He was forthright with his probation officer when he discussed his drinking habits, and that he ‘was struggling with alcohol use,'” Schaffer wrote.

Prosecutor Elisa Dimas wants Browning to give Maestas a sentence above the maximum of eight years agreed to in his plea deal because of his “uncharged conduct,” Schaffer wrote. This is because of the injuries to the Laguna Pueblo woman’s children.

One child, L.R., received “liver lacerations and spleen injuries.” She was unrestrained in the back seat.

Dimas’ actual request to increase Maestas’ possible sentence does not appear in the public court docket. The public docket is missing entries 38 and 39 and 44 through 46.

According to Schaffer’s sentencing memo, Dimas’ request for Maestas to receive a sentence above what she agreed to in the plea agreement is document 45, which does not appear on the public court docket. There is no explanation as to why the document is being kept secret and there are no entries indicating it was sealed, or that either the defense or prosecution requested it be sealed.

According to Schaffer’s memo, Dimas wants Maestas to be sentenced to at least a maximum of eight years and one month, one month above what was allowed in his plea deal, although it is not clear if she is seeking a sentence above that and her request is not on the public docket.

In 2018, journalist Jeff Proctor wrote about prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes federal cases, and public defenders, improperly sealing court documents, a process that requires a judge’s consent.

Maestas also wrote a letter to Browning and the dead woman’s family. Although he wrote that he feels sympathy for the woman’s family and he regrets the decision he made, because it killed the Laguna Pueblo woman, much of his letter is about the unsolved killing of his grandfather.

Maestas is tentatively set to be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2020.

The details of the crash are in the case write-up.

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Continue reading “Acoma Pueblo man pleas in fatal DWI crash, to get 5-8 year sentence”

Richard Griego’s competency questioned by his attorney; case likely to be placed on hold

See the full case write-up here

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Richard Griego‘s first-degree murder trial will likely not go to trial on Oct. 7, 2019, the date it had been scheduled for, after his attorney filed a motion questioning his competency to stand trial.

According to a public docket for the case, attorney Todd Farkas filed a “Notice of Competency Issue and Motion to Stay Proceedings” on Sept. 11, 2019.

Richard Griego

Farkas’ notice and motion come exactly one year after the case started moving toward trial after it was placed on hold the first time for the same issue.

On Sept. 11, 2018, according to the docket, an order was entered lifting the stay previously imposed on the case after the issue of competency was withdrawn by Farkas.

The case had been functionally paused the first time on Nov. 15, 2017, when Griego’s competency was officially questioned for the first time, although minutes from status hearings note that the attorneys and judge were aware that competency may be an issue.

Continue reading “Richard Griego’s competency questioned by his attorney; case likely to be placed on hold”

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”

Mateo Maestas: A Laguno Pueblo woman, YOB 1975 — 4-16-2019

 

Summary

On April 16, 2019, Mateo Maestas, 22, of Cuba, and enrolled member of the Acoma tribe/Navajo nation, crashed in Laguna into a car driven by a Laguna Pueblo woman, born in 1975 and not identified in court documents, on State Road 124 (Old Highway Route 66). He was drunk. As a result of the crash, the woman died. Her two children, in the car, survived. On April 18, he was arrested on charges of involuntary manslaughter, DWI and reckless driving.

On June 12, 2019, he was indicted on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter.

On Sept. 5, 2019, Maestas pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge under a plea deal that specified his sentence would be between five and eight years and it was accepted by federal Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing.

On Jan. 23, 2020, Federal District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Maestas to six years in prison and allowed him 60 days to self surrender. Maestas was arrested a month later for violating the conditions of his pretrial release.

The crash and indictment

On April 16, 2019, the Laguna Pueblo woman was driving west on Old Highway Route 66, also known as State Road 124, when Maestas, driving a black Ford sedan, either tried to turn onto Yellow Hill Road or tried to make a U-turn in the intersection, Bureau of Indian Affairs Agent Marcelino ToersBijns wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant, submitted to the court on April 18. The lead investigator was BIA Agent RoAnna Bennett.

Laguna Pueblo by ANOXLOU/Flickr

While turning, Maestas’s car slammed into the Laguna Pueblo woman’s car, forcing it off the road and into a small wash on the side of the road.

The crash was initially reported by an unknown woman. The two children in the car were reported to have received serious injuries and the driver was dead when investigators arrived.

State Police Capt. Troy Velasquez told ToersBijns that he was the first officer to arrive at the scene and he checked on Maestas, who said he wanted to get out of his car and wanted help. Velasquez told the federal investigator he saw multiple beer cans in the car and Maestas smelled like alcohol. He made no mention if Velasquez checked on the woman or her children or what their status were.

Laguna Police Officer Keith Riley told ToersBijns that he arrived at the scene “minutes after it occurred” and also spoke to Maestas and asked him how much he drank.

“(He) replied he had too much to drink,” ToersBijns wrote. “MAESTAS was asked what he had to drink and MAESTAS replied margaritas.”

At the hospital, a “presumption blood results” showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.28, over three times the legal-per-se limit is 0.08. According to his plea deal, his blood-alcohol content was later determined to be lower, at 0.19.

According to a sentencing memorandum by his attorney, Britany Schaffer, Maestas was abandoned at his vehicle the night of the accident “in the middle of nowhere by his friends” following a “minor argument.”

“He made a terrible error in attempting to drive back to safety, one for which he will be haunted by for the rest of his life,” Schaffer wrote. “He called out for help to one of his loved ones, but he was too far away to be able to help.”

One of the children, L.R., suffered “liver lacerations and spleen injuries.” She was unrestrained in the back seat.

Schaffer does not write how Maestas was in danger that he needed to drive, drunk, to safety.

Although the criminal complaint was filed on April 18, Maestas was not arrested until May 22 and on May 29, he was released and placed on house arrest, according to court records.

On June 12, a federal grand jury indicted Maestas on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter.

 

The plea

On Sept. 5, 2019, Mateo Maestas pleaded guilty to a single count of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years.

According to the plea deal, accepted by Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing, dictates Maestas’ sentence will be between five and eight years.

Sentence, wrangling and revoked release

Sentence wrangling

In preparation for the sentencing hearing set for Jan. 17, 2020, his attorney, Britany Schaffer, filed a 15-page sentencing memorandum on Dec. 31, 2019.

She wrote that Maestas drove because his friends left him at his car following a minor argument.

“He made a terrible error in attempting to drive back to safety, one for which he will be haunted by for the rest of his life,” Schaffer wrote. “He called out for help to one of his loved ones, but he was too far away to be able to help.”

Schaffer does not write how Maestas was in danger, or what he was in danger from, that he needed to drive, drunk, to safety, or what safety he was trying to drive toward.

The presentence report, which isn’t public, suggested a sentence of 2 1/2 to 3 years, she wrote.

Schaffer wrote that she wants Browning to give Maestas a sentence at the low end of the plea agreement.

“Mr. Maestas has a criminal history of zero: that is, prior to this case, he has never been convicted of a crime, other than a single speeding ticket,” she wrote. “He is young, hard-working and educated, and aspires to help others in his future as he has been doing during his counseling sessions while this case has been pending.”

He is the grandson of Wilson Joe Chiquito, who was killed in his home. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into his killing is still unsolved.

“Although there is no excuse for his actions on the date of the accident, Mr. Maestas was heavily impacted by the loss of his grandfather, and, at the time when this accident occurred, he had unfortunately fallen into a pattern of using alcohol in an unhealthy manner. He was forthright with his probation officer when he discussed his drinking habits, and that he ‘was struggling with alcohol use,'” Schaffer wrote.

Prosecutor Elisa Dimas wants Browning to give Maestas a sentence above the maximum of eight years agreed to in his plea deal because of his “uncharged conduct,” Schaffer wrote. This is because of the injuries to the Laguna Pueblo woman’s children.

One child, L.R., received “liver lacerations and spleen injuries.” She was unrestrained in the back seat.

Dimas’ actual request to increase Maestas’ possible sentence does not appear in the public court docket. The public docket is missing entries 38 and 39 and 44 through 46.

According to Schaffer’s sentencing memo, Dimas’ request for Maestas to receive a sentence above what she agreed to in the plea agreement is document 45, which does not appear on the public court docket. There is no explanation as to why the document is being kept secret and there are no entries indicating it was sealed, or that either the defense or prosecution requested it be sealed.

According to Schaffer’s memo, Dimas wants Maestas to be sentenced to at least a maximum of eight years and one month, one month above what was allowed in his plea deal, although it is not clear if she is seeking a sentence above that and her request is not on the public docket.

In 2018, journalist Jeff Proctor wrote about prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes federal cases, and public defenders, improperly sealing court documents, a process that requires a judge’s consent.

Maestas also wrote a letter to Browning and the dead woman’s family. Although he wrote that he feels sympathy for the woman’s family and he regrets the decision he made, because it killed the Laguna Pueblo woman, much of his letter is about the unsolved killing of his grandfather.

Sentence

Federal District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Maestas on Jan. 23, 2020, to six years in prison, during an hour and 20 minute hearing in federal District Court in Albuquerque.

Federal District Judge Dee Benson

According to the sentencing minute sheet, Dimas asked for an 8-year sentence during the hearing and Maestas’ defense attorney, Britany Schaffer, asked for a 5-year sentence.

According to the minutes, four members of Maestas’ family addressed the judge: M. Vigil, L. Castillo, M. Pablo and J. Maestas.

Maestas also addressed the court, but the minutes contain no information to what anyone said.

Three people also spoke in court on behalf of the victim. M. Valdez spoke on behalf of her family, M. Garcia spoke as a member of the victim’s family and R. Garcia spoke as the guardian of the dead woman’s children, according to the minutes.

Maestas was originally supposed to be sentenced by a different judge. No records indicate why Benson, normally a judge in Utah, sentenced Maestas.

No court documents illuminate why Benson settled on the sentence he did.

Release violations

After Benson gave Maestas 60 days to turn himself in to begin serving his prison sentence, Maestas’ attorneys requested he be allowed to return to his home pending his self-surrender, which Benson granted. Since Dec. 6, 2019, Maestas was living at a halfway house in Albuquerque. Before that, he had been on house arrest.

On Feb. 26, 2020, a federal judge with an illegible signature ordered Maestas arrested, which he was, on March 3, 2020, in Albuquerque.

“Defendant failed to comply with conditions of release: alcohol use, failed to report contact with law enforcement and failed to comply with travel restrictions,” according to the warrant.

Federal Magistrate Judge Paul Briones revoked the conditions of his release on March 5 and ordered he be sent to prison to begin serving his sentence.

See the case documents on Google Drive

Kimsey Barboan: Anthony Martinez — 12-16-2017

  • Suspect: Kimsey Barboan
  • Victim: Anthony Martinez, 61
  • Charges: Second-degree murder, unlawful taking of a vehicle, tampering with evidence, DWI, driving on a license revoked for DWI and open container of alcohol in a vehicle
  • Status: Pleaded down to voluntary manslaughter, unlawful taking of a vehicle and DWI third offense
  • Sentence: 4 years followed by 3.5 years supervised release, per plea agreement; credit for 1.5 years time served
  • Date of incident: Dec. 16, 2017
  • Investigating Agency: State Police
  • Location: 334 County Road 13, Cuba, Sandoval County
  • Magistrate case number: M-45-FR-2017-00919
  • District case number: D-1329-CR-201800063

 

Summary

On Dec. 16, 2017, Kimsey Barboan, 33, beat his roommate, Anthony Martinez, 61, to death with a baseball bat at their Cuba home. He then drove to a gas station in Cuba where he was reported as lying in a truck with a head wound. He was sent to the hospital, and then arrested, for drunk driving and felon in possession of a firearm. Officers found a bloody bat in the truck.

On Dec. 18, 2017, two of Martinez’s friends went to his house on County Road 13 and found he was lying, dead, inside the house. The next day, State Police agents charged Barboan with an open count of murder.

On Feb. 1, 2018, a Sandoval County grand jury indicted Barboan on a series of charges, including second-degree murder.

On June 17, 2019, Barboan pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, unlawful taking of a vehicle and DWI third offense. As part of his plea deal, his sentence was set at 4 years followed by 3.5 years of supervised probation.

The incident

On Dec. 16, 2017, Kimsey Barboan beat his roommate, Anthony Martinez, 61, to death with a baseball bat.

He was only arrested charged with Martinez’s death three days later, while he was already in custody on charges related to drunk driving and the illegal possession of a firearm, State Police Agent Marcus Lopez wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant.

Lopez wrote that he interviewed Barboan, along with Agent Tony DeTavis, on Dec. 18, 2017.

Kimsey Barboan

“Mr. Barboan advised he had been chopping wood at the residence, 334 County Rd 13 (sic),” Lopez wrote. “Mr. Barboan advised he currently lives there with Anthony Martinez.”

Barboan told the agents that at 5 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2017, he went into the house and Martinez “jumped him and struck him with a wooden baseball bat,” Lopez wrote.

“He sustained injuries to the left side of his head and face,” Lopez wrote. “Mr. Barboan advised he got the baseball bat away from Mr. Martinez and began to strike Mr. Martinez with the baseball bat. He advised he did see blood on the facial area of Mr. Martinez.”

He told the detectives there were stolen guns in the house and Martinez used illegal drugs.

“Mr. Barboan stated he left the residence and also started Mr. Martinez was making some type of groaning noises,” Lopez wrote. “He took the baseball bat and broke out the window to the 1985 Blue GMC pickup, the driver’s side door.”

Lopez wrote that State Police Officer Darrell Blackhorse was told by dispatchers to be on the lookout for a 1980s Chevy pickup on the evening of Dec. 16, 2017 and he found it at the Circle K in Cuba.

Officers did not know about the homicide at this point.

Lopez did not write why Blackhorse was told to look for the truck.

Inside the truck, Barboan was lying across the front seat. He had a cut on the left side of his forehead. Blackhorse called for an ambulance and Barboan told him he got the cut because was jumped by “numerous white males,” Lopez wrote.

In the truck, Blackhorse found a bloody baseball bat and a rifle. He left the bat and seized the rifle and called an ambulance for Barboan, who was transported to the hospital. After Barboan was released, Blackhorse charged him for drunk driving, felon in possession of a firearm, driving on a revoked license, open container of alcohol in a vehicle and on two felony arrest warrants, he wrote.

Two days later, at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 18, 2017, two friends of Martinez went to his house. One of them, Coby Aragon, wanted to see if Martinez had any work for him, Lopez wrote.

When he went into the house, he found Martinez on the floor and told his friend, who called 911, he wrote.

Sandoval County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Stand arrived and saw Martinez appeared to have blunt trauma to the head and “there was lots of blood.” Martinez was cold to the touch and had no pulse, Lopez wrote.

Stand noted that it appeared there had been a struggle in the house and there was blood on several walls, he wrote.

Where the kitchen and living room met, there was a dark baseball bat with blood on it. The deputies referred the case to the State Police agents, Lopez wrote.

Lopez and DeTavis then interviewed Barboan while he was being held at the Sandoval County Detention Center, he wrote.

Lopez charged him with an open count of murder and tampering with evidence.

On Feb. 1, 2018, a Sandoval County grand jury indicted Barboan on charges of second-degree murder, unlawful taking of a vehicle, tampering with evidence, DWI, driving on a license revoked for DWI and open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

Below is the affidavit for an arrest warrant by Lopez.

 

12-19-2017 - Affidavit arrest warrant - Kimsey Barboan

 

Plea and sentence

Portrait of District Judge Louis McDonald
Judge Louis McDonald

On June 17, 2019, Kimsey Barboan pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, unlawful taking of a vehicle and DWI third offense.

District Court Judge Louis McDonald accepted the plea, which set Barboan’s sentence at four years followed by three-and-a-half years of supervised probation, according to the judgement and sentence.

The plea was also signed by prosecutor Amy Lopez Dooling.

Barboan received credit for time served of 547 days, or just over a year and a half.

According to the plea deal, Barboan killed Anthony Martinez “as a result of sufficient provocation” but no court documents state what, specifically, Martinez did to sufficiently provoke Barboan.

Below is the plea agreement signed by McDonald, Dooling and Barboan’s attorney, Michael Rosenfield:

 

6-17-2019 - Plea - Kimsey Barboan

 

See all the case documents on Google Drive