Crime spree suspect arraigned in Taos

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Martin Rivera, a 21-year-old Ranchos de Taos man who has been in and out of Eighth Judicial District Court since late 2015, was arraigned today (April 17) on charges connected to a string of alleged crimes that left one man stabbed, several others assaulted and at least two robbed at gunpoint this month in Taos County.

Befitting of his street nickname, "Lil' Joker," the defendant wore a smile on his face as he was escorted into Chief Magistrate Court Judge Ernest Ortega's courtroom today at 2:30 p.m. to be arraigned on two cases stemming from the alleged crimes, which occurred between April 6 - 11.

In the first case, Rivera was arraigned on nine counts: armed robbery, a second-degree felony; aggravated burglary (armed with a deadly weapon), a second-degree felony; kidnapping (victim held to service), a second-degree felony; assault with intent to commit a violent felony (robbery), a third-degree felony; abuse of a child (first offense, placed in a dangerous situation), a third-degree felony; contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a fourth-degree felony; unlawful taking of a vehicle or motor vehicle (first offense), a fourth-degree felony; criminal damage to property (over $1,000), a fourth-degree felony; and negligent use of a deadly weapon (endangering the safety of another), a petty misdemeanor.

Bond for the charges was set at $200,000, cash only - pending a motion from the Eighth Judicial District Attorney's Office to have a "no bond" set in the case, which would ensure that the defendant would remain incarcerated.

In the second case, Rivera was arraigned on one count of aggravated fleeing from a law enforcement officer, a fourth-degree felony - a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in a New Mexico state prison. Bond was set at $40,000, cash only.

Collectively, the charges carry a potential maximum sentence of approximately 38 years imprisonment.

Rivera had been granted a conditional discharge before Judge Sarah Backus Jan. 26, 2016, and committed the alleged crimes after absconding from probation from the court early this year.

Multiple district court bench warrants were subsequently issued for his arrest - during which time Rivera allegedly stabbed a man who had been loading groceries into his car in the Smith's parking lot in Taos the evening of April 6 and assaulted several others. He is also believed to have robbed an individual at gunpoint near Walmart along Camino de la Merced April 10. And on the morning of April 11, Rivera allegedly succeeded in carjacking a black Toyota Tundra from a man in the Ranchos de Taos Post Office parking lot, which he and a female accomplice, 16-year-old Joanne Montoya, then reportedly crashed along County Road 57 in the Velarde area.

The defendant and his alleged juvenile accomplice were arrested outside an apartment in Albuquerque April 12 by members of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, who acted on information provided from the Taos County Sheriff's Office.

The arrests marked the end of a dayslong hunt for the couple.

As a minor, Montoya is expected to be processed in Taos Juvenile Court - though the nature and extent of any penalties she may face remain unknown.

Check back in the April 20 edition of The Taos News for more details on this story.

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