The Docket

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

Trials

Dec. 18

Rafael Orozco, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Orozco is scheduled to be tried this month on two felony counts and one misdemeanor connected to an event that took place at Holy Cross Hospital on Sept. 21, 2016.

During the event, Orozco allegedly struck his wife and newborn baby and assaulted a health care worker, touching off a lockdown at the hospital and a monthslong search for the suspect, who was arrested and charged in December 2016.

Following a clash with a jailer at the Taos County Adult Detention Center this year, Orozco was transferred to Lea County Correctional Center.

For more information on this case, read our past coverage online at bit.ly/2x5dl34.

Jan. 22

Brandon Lopez, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

A trial date for Lopez’s case, which was originally set for Oct. 16, was rescheduled for Jan. 22, when the defendant will be tried on nine charges, including first-degree murder.

Lopez was accused of firing the bullet that killed 23-year-old Destiny Valdez at the bypass Shell gas station in Taos on Feb. 3.

For more information, read our past coverage online at bit.ly/2lOK1I1.

Rafael Orozco, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Orozco will be tried on other charges connected to a separate incident following his arrest on his prior case, including bringing contraband into a jail, possession of a controlled substance, interference with bomb or fire control and criminal damage to property. The defendant picked up the alleged infractions while incarcerated at the Taos County Adult Detention Center.

For more information on this and other cases related to Orozco, read our past coverage at bit.ly/2gSjnda.

Feb. 5

Martin Rivera, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom B, Judge Jeff McElroy

Rivera, a Ranchos de Taos man, will be tried on eight felony counts and one petty misdemeanor connected to a series of crimes he allegedly committed earlier this year.

The defendant had been granted a conditional release on a prior case from 2016 and allegedly committed the string of crimes from April 6-11 with a juvenile accomplice, including a stabbing, multiple assaults and armed robberies in Taos County.

For more information on this story, read our past coverage online at bit.ly/2pNJt7d.

April 9

Requildo Cárdenas, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom B, Judge Jeff McElroy

Cárdenas will be tried next year on charges that include aggravated assault upon a peace officer, fleeing and resisting connected to an Aug. 28 event at Fred Baca Park in Taos.

During the event, Taos Adult Probation and Parole officers and an officer from Taos Police Department attempted to arrest Cárdenas, who was wanted for absconding on parole. Cárdenas was parked in a vehicle with one passenger, Elizabeth Maestas, 21, when the officers attempted to perform the arrest. Cárdenas allegedly attempted to flee in the vehicle and strike the officers with the vehicle. An officer on the scene fired two shots, wounding Maestas, who later recovered from her injury.

For more on this case, read our article in this week’s paper and refer to our past coverage online at bit.ly/2A5dp1c.

Ricky M. Romero, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Romero, a sergeant with the Taos County Sheriff’s Office who ran for sheriff in 2014, will be tried on 21 counts of perjury and fraud for allegedly illegally billing a Medicaid program for taking care of a disabled relative while he was on duty.

The sheriff’s office opened an internal investigation into the allegations, but has not yet released the results of the investigation since charges were filed against Romero earlier this year.

He was indicted on the charges by a grand jury on April 7.

For more information on this case, read our past coverage at bit.ly/2w0bOpP.

Arraignments, hearings, conferences

Oct. 31

Andrew Bernard Mott, plea conference – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Mott agreed to a plea deal late last month, in which he pleaded no contest to two of four charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer for allegedly discharging a firearm at a state police officer and his family in Costilla on March 11. The other two charges have been dismissed by the state.

The details of Mott’s sentencing were not available as of press time.

Nov. 27

Cristian Orozco, plea deal proposal – Taos District Court

Orozco is considering a plea deal proposed by the state. The details of the agreement were not available as of press time.

The defendant had been scheduled for a jury trial on kidnapping, burglary, battery and assault charges stemming from a Feb. 25 event that began in Peñasco and ended in Española.

During the event, Orozco allegedly forced entry into a home in Peñasco, where Ranchos de Taos teenager Angelica Valdez was staying with her grandparents. He allegedly brandished a handgun, assaulted the family and kidnapped Valdez. He then allegedly fled south with the young woman to the Española area, where he was arrested the following morning on Feb. 26, and the alleged victim was returned to safety.

For more information on this case, read our past coverage online at bit.ly/2nNw6U4.

Nov. 30

Brandon Lopez, motion to withdraw – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Defense counselor Cosme D. Ripol filed a motion to withdraw from the case on Dec. 4, citing the impending closure of their legal practice later this month.

The motion is pending a response from the court.

Ripol had filed another motion to withdraw on Nov. 30, which was denied on Dec. 1 on the basis that “counsel must contact defendant and help him obtain additional counsel,” according to court records.

The reason for the motion was not known as of press time.

Jan. 18

Juan Espinoza, preliminary hearing – Taos Magistrate Court, Courtroom B, Chief Judge Ernest Ortega

A hearing will be held to determine if sufficient probable cause exists in Espinoza’s case. The 21-year-old Bakersfield, California, resident was 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 defendant appeared for a preliminary examination in October and was released from the Taos County Adult Detention Center after posting $2,000 for a $20,000 cash surety bond.

Meanwhile, the defense counsel and state prosecutors are gathering evidence and subpoenaing witnesses for interviews in preparation for trial. The prosecution, however, is lacking a significant piece of evidence – an accurate blood-alcohol reading from the defendant, who allegedly admitted to drinking around the time of the crash.

For more information on this case, read our past coverage online at bit.ly/2xLcZeA.

Jan. 29

Juan David González, plea conference – Taos District Court, Courtroom B, Judge Jeff McElroy

A plea deal proposed by the state in González’s case was proposed in November and will be discussed at a plea conference set for early next year. “I expect a definitive answer from the defendant,” said prosecutor John Lovelace.

On Dec. 5, 2016, González and two accomplices allegedly fled two New Mexico State Police officers attempting to serve a warrant for González’s arrest in the Ranchos de Taos Post Office parking lot. González allegedly fired an assault rifle at the pursuing officers during an ensuing car chase.

González was charged four felony counts and one misdemeanor.

For more information on this case, read our past coverage online at bit.ly/2eWvPs2.

– Compiled by John Miller

docket

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