Courts

The Docket - September 13

Compiled John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 9/14/18

The following is a selected overview of recent case activity in or related to the Taos County court system. All dates and times are subject to change.

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Courts

The Docket - September 13

Posted

The following is a selected overview of recent case activity in or related to the Taos County court system. All dates and times are subject to change.

Trials

Sept. 17

Martin Rivera, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Rivera, a Ranchos de Taos man, is set to appear for trial next week related to a series of crimes he allegedly committed in April 2017.

The incident began April 6, when Rivera allegedly stabbed a man while attempting to steal a vehicle in the parking lot of Smith’s grocery store. Four days later, Rivera was charged with armed robbery for robbing a juvenile at gunpoint on Camino de la Merced near Walmart. On April 11, Rivera and a female accomplice, a juvenile, then allegedly stole a vehicle at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Ranchos de Taos Post Office.

A statewide manhunt ensued, ending April 12, when members of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department captured Rivera and detained the young woman at an apartment in Albuquerque.

Several subpoenas have been issued this month leading up to the trial, which was delayed in August. For more on this case, refer to our past coverage.

Other events

Sept. 10

Patrick Medina, motion hearing – Taos District Court, Courtroom B, Judge Jeff McElroy

Taos District Court Judge Jeff McElroy granted a motion disqualifying the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting a felony drug case filed against Medina due to prior legal counsel District Attorney Donald Gallegos had provided to the defendant.

Defense attorney Erlinda Johnson cited a domestic violence case filed against Medina in 1997. Three years later, Medina’s longtime defense counselor, Lee Deschamps, was replaced by Gallegos, who was then working as an associate for Deschamps. Gallegos was running at the time for his current position as district attorney, according to Johnson’s research.

Johnson also wrote that Deschamps’ law office was representing Medina on a drug trafficking case filed in Santa Fe County during the same period, a case for which Medina said Gallegos had driven him to at least one court date. On the way, Johnson notes, Medina told Gallegos about his “longstanding drug addiction.”

Taken together, Johnson said the history constituted a “conflict of interest,” but during a hearing for the motion held Sept. 10, Gallegos stated he could not recall the defendant’s admission regarding his drug addiction

The motion was filed after a multi-agency drug task force arrested Medina March 15 in the Peñasco area and charged him with four counts of trafficking controlled substances, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possession of marijuana.

Four other individuals were also arrested and charged with felony drug charges the same day in Peñasco, Dixon and Cordova. The cross-county operation was conducted as part the New Mexico High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which has expanded its area of operations to include Taos County.

The district attorney’s office may appeal McElroy’s decision to grant the motion, according to court records. Otherwise, prosecution can be transferred to another district or the case must be dismissed.

Sept. 13

Rafael Orozco, status hearing – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

A bench warrant was issued Aug. 10 for Orozco, a Taos man with two pending Taos County court cases and a new case he picked up in Río Arriba County less than two weeks after Judge Sarah Backus ordered his conditional release in Taos County June 19.

The day Orozco was released from prison on a prior conviction, he was arrested by police officers July 3 outside Walmart in Española, where multiple bystanders reported the 24-year-old had pointed a handgun at them, according to court records.

During his arrest, officers reported that they discovered “numerous empty bottles of Budweiser beer” inside the suspect’s vehicle, along with a .380 caliber handgun that was loaded, but “inoperable.” Officers determined that Orozco was also driving the vehicle on a revoked license.

While he was being transported on an arrest order from his parole officer, Orozco allegedly “kicked out” the window of the Española police vehicle he was riding in.

During his arraignment, Ozoco pleaded not guilty to three charges: possession of an open container, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct (disturbing the peace) and driving with a revoked license. He was later granted a conditional release. The defendant failed to appear for a nonjury trial on that case Aug. 9.

A status hearing has been set for Sept. 13 for Orozco’s two pending Taos County cases: one for allegedly battering his wife, a newborn baby and a health care worker at Holy Cross Hospital in 2016, and the other for being in possession of a controlled substance and pulling a fire alarm at the Taos County Adult Detention Center in February 2017. For more on this case, refer to our past coverage.

Sept. 17

Travis Walker, docket call – Taos District Court, Judge Jeff McElroy, Courtroom B

Walker is set to appear for a docket call this month related to a December 2017 incident in which he allegedly kidnapped his former boss in the Ranchos de Taos area.

The defendant is accused of kidnapping Jaime Gonzalez-Aguilera on Jedi Road in Los Cordovas. Walker allegedly assaulted and battered the victim with a sawed-off shotgun and fired a shot in the direction of another individual who visited the man’s home to check on him Dec. 7.

Walker then allegedly blindfolded Gonzalez-Aguilera and placed him in the trunk of a vehicle before driving the man around to various locations, including an ATM and the man’s business, seeking to rob him.

A trial has been scheduled for Oct. 1 in Walker’s case. For more on this case, refer to our past coverage.

Sept. 24

Martin Melendez, docket call – Taos District Court, Judge Jeff McElroy, Courtroom B

Melendez, 59, of El Prado is set to appear for a docket call later this month on a child sex abuse case filed Dec. 13, 2017.

The 59-year-old was arrested and charged with criminal sexual penetration, contact and exploitation of a minor under 13-years-old as well as custodial interference after the family of Melendez informed law enforcement about the alleged abuse.

Acting on the information gained from the family and through other interviews, The Taos County Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant for the man’s El Prado home, where investigators allegedly recovered hard drives and other storage devices related to the allegations. Melendez is tentatively set to appear for trial on Oct. 1 in Taos District Court. For more on this case, refer to our past coverage.

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