Updated Aug. 23 at 2:20 p.m.
The 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Taos dismissed a fugitive from justice charge Thursday (Aug. 23) against a man accused of abusing 11 children at a compound in Northern New Mexico, clearing the way for the man's conditional release.
The dismissal came little more than a week after Taos District Court Judge Sarah Backus ruled that the defendant, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and his four co-defendants, also charged with abusing the children, could be released on conditions.
If let out of jail, they have all been ordered to wear GPS ankle bracelets and be placed on house arrest. They cannot return to the compound, which was demolished last week, leaving them to find suitable housing elsewhere.
Meeting those conditions has been a challenge for three other defendants, who were still held with Wahhaj at the Taos County jail as of press time Thursday afternoon. A fourth was detained by immigration and customs agents last week.
Wahhaj's fugitive from justice charge stemmed from an arrest warrant filed in Georgia after he allegedly kidnapped his son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, whose remains were found buried at the dwelling near the Colorado border Aug. 6.
Ron Olsen, deputy district attorney with the 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Taos, stated earlier this month that Wahhaj would have to first address the New Mexico abuse case.
Wahhaj and his co-defendants – his wife, Jany Leveille, 35, Lucas Morton, 40, Subhannah Wahhaj, 35, and Hujrah Wahhaj, 37 – were also charged with criminal trespassing earlier this month for building their home on property they didn't own.
On Thursday, a judge ruled to alter prior cash bonds set in those cases, replacing them with $5,000 unsecured appearance bonds, removing another barrier to their release.
All five adults were arrested Aug. 3, when the Taos County Sheriff's Office and another state law enforcement agency raided the makeshift compound where they had lived with the 11 children.
Less than 24 hours after a Taos District Court Judge granted the defendants bail, Leveille, a Haitan immigrant, was detained by immigration and customs enforcement officers.
Defense attorneys have filed motions to dismiss the abuse cases filed against all five defendants, citing continued delays by state prosecutors and conditions of release that none of the four defendants had been able to fulfill as of press time Thursday.
The motions cite a court rule which requires the state to hold a preliminary hearing for defendants within 10 days of when they are placed in custody.
"If a preliminary examination is not held within the time limits in this rule, the court shall dismiss the case without prejudice and discharge the defendant," Hujrah Wahhaj's attorney, Marie Legrand Mller wrote.
This is a developing story. For more, check back here at taosnews.com.