Felix Curtis: Brian Brown — 9-14-2019

Summary

On Sept. 14, 2019, Felix Curtis, 26, of Fruitland, killed Brian Brown, 39, of Fruitland, while driving drunk on Sept. 14, 2019, in San Juan County. Curtis pulled in front of Brown, while trying to make a left turn. Brown hit the back of Curtis’ car, which sent him flying, causing his death.

On Aug. 11, 2020, 11 months after Brown’s death, a federal grand jury indicted Curtis on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was not previously charged in magistrate court with the death, making the charge a direct indictment.

Federal Magistrate Judge Gregory Fouratt ordered Curtis released to the La Pasada Halfway House in Albuquerque during his arraignment on Sept. 23, 2020, according to court minutes, and ordered an unsecured $10,000 bond. The docket does not indicate when Curtis was arrested, although the case was not unsealed, and an initial appearance set, until Sept. 17, 2020. No warrants appear in the docket.

On May 14, 2021, Curtis pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter without a plea deal.

No sentencing hearing has been set.

The incident

On Sept. 14, 2019, Felix Curtis was driving east on Indian Route 36, near Mile Post 26. He slowed down to take a left turn onto Canal Road, according to a proffer of evidence at trial filed by prosecutor David Cowen.

“At the moment Defendant made a left turn towards Canal Road, he crossed into the opposing traffic lane and directly in the travel path of John Doe,” Cowen wrote. “John Doe’s motorcycle collided with the passenger side rear-end of the vehicle that Defendant was driving. The impact of the collision killed John Doe and caused multiple blunt force injuries”

Brian Brown, 39, of Fruitland, is referred to as John Doe in court records.

Curtis consented to field sobriety tests. He performed poorly, admitted to drinking alcohol and submitted to a breath test that showed his blood-alcohol content to be between 0.12 and 0.11, Cowen wrote.

The legal-per-se limit in New Mexico is 0.08.

No other court documents list no other details of the case and, if a search warrant in the case was sought, it appears to still be sealed, based on a review of federal search warrants in the weeks following the incident.

According to the autopsy report’s deputy field investigation, Brown’s mother went looking for him after he did not come home the morning of his death. Her husband woke her up at 2 a.m. because Brown had not arrived home.

Brown was not wearing a helmet.

Autopsy report

Pathologist Karen Cline-Parhamovich wrote in the autopsy report that Brown suffered “lethal traumatic injuries” that caused bleeding in his chest and within the sac that surrounds the heart, along with multiple fractures to the ribs, upper arm bones, and legs.

“The cause of death is multiple blunt force injuries,” she wrote.

Brown was drunk, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.21, according to the toxicology report.

Brian Bob Brown

Brown’s obituary only lists his date of birth and death.

In a comment on his online obituary, Sandra Newlin, of Bloomfield, said she pulled up on the crash.

“I wanted so badly to be able to save him,” she wrote.

Indictment on one charge of involuntary manslaughter

On Aug. 11, 2020, 11 months after Brown’s death, a federal grand jury indicted Curtis on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was not previously charged in magistrate court with the death, making the charge a direct indictment.

Release on bond

Federal Magistrate Judge Gregory Fouratt ordered Curtis released to the La Pasada Halfway House in Albuquerque during his arraignment on Sept. 23, 2020, according to court minutes, and ordered an unsecured $10,000 bond. The docket does not indicate when Curtis was arrested, although the case was not unsealed, and an initial appearance set, until Sept. 17, 2020. No warrants appear in the docket.

The minutes do not state if prosecutors opposed his release or not.

Plea without a deal

On May 14, 2021, Curtis pleaded guilty to the indictment charging him with involuntary manslaughter. He pleaded guilty without a plea deal, according to the minutes.

Magistrate Judge Paul Briones accepted his plea. However, final acceptance of the plea is deferred until sentencing by a district court judge.

According to the minutes, no sentencing date has been set.

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