Bond lowered in fatal Rio Grande car crash case

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Following a hearing, bond was reduced Thursday (Oct. 5) for Juan Espinoza – a 21-year-old Bakersfield, Calif. resident charged with multiple counts of homicide by vehicle connected to a Sept. 30 car crash that killed two people and critically injured one other.

The bond amount was originally set at $200,000 cash-only during an arraignment held earlier in the week. It was reduced Oct. 5 to $20,000 cash assurity. Such a bond requires a defendant to post only 10 percent of the bond's full amount – approximately $2,000 in this case – in order to be released.

During court proceedings Oct. 5, the Eighth Judicial District Attorney's Office had  initially only recommended a $10,000 cash assurity bond. Presiding Judge Ernest Ortega required the amount be doubled before it would accepted by the court. Ortega had deemed the defendant to be a flight risk during an arraignment held earlier in the week, but due to new court rules, was unable to hold the defendant.

According to court records – and contrary to what some connected to the case had expected – the Eighth Judicial District Attorney's Office did not seek a no-bond hold in district court, which, if accepted, would have kept the defendant incarcerated until trial, according to court officials.

As of Sunday (Oct. 8), however, Espinoza was still at the Taos County Adult Detention Center, where he was booked following the crash.

If released, Espinoza is expected to return to Calif. and would be required to maintain contact with his attorney and appear for court dates in his case. If any of those conditions were not met, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Thursday (Oct. 26) at 1:30 p.m. in Taos Magistrate Court, Courtroom A.

car crash, hearing

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John Lapin

So this guy kills two people while DUI in a stolen vehicle and seriously injures a third. Then we learn there are no alcohol testing kits available to law enforcement because the department which manages these has allowed them to all "expire" (see previous story). So there was no legal way to test his blood alcohol level. Now, the defendant is being released from jail and expected to leave this jurisdiction but will return to Taos. If he fails to return to Taos, the Eighth Judicial District will issue a warrant for his arrest. Law enforcement in California will drop what ever else they are doing and hunt down this guy and extradite him to NM for hearings. Does anyone else see another reason why NM is falling apart of am I just an old worrier?

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