Alleged abductor arraigned in Taos

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A man accused of abducting a 15-year-old girl from a Peñasco-area residence in February was transported by Taos County Sheriff’s Office deputies this week along the same route he allegedly fled with his victim, this time to be incarcerated in the Taos County Adult Detention Center to face seven felony charges in Taos County Magistrate Court.

The accused, 21-year-old Cristian Orozco, hung his head as he was escorted into the courtroom Tuesday morning (March 21) and was directed to a chair at the defendant’s table. Beside him, a second chair stood empty. Counsel for the defendant had not been selected or assigned in time for the court appearance.

Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office Associate Attorney Kaitlyn Luck sat adjacent, representing the state of New Mexico. Judge Jeff Shannon presided over the public hearing.

Shannon told the defendant that Las Vegas-based attorney Ben Mondragon had been assigned via court order to represent him on the case.

Mondragon will defend Orozco on charges levied following a Feb. 25 incident. Orozco allegedly forced entry into a home in Peñasco, where Ranchos de Taos teenager Angelica Valdez had been staying with her grandparents. Orozco brandished a handgun during the incident, assaulted the family and kidnapped Valdez at gunpoint, according to court records.

Orozco fled south with the victim that night along State Road 68, the “low road” from Taos, eluding police until the following morning, when multiple law enforcement agencies located and arrested the suspect and safely recovered Valdez at a mobile home located on Starlighter Loop in Española.

Orozco had been held in the Tierra Amarilla Adult Detention Center for nearly one month before being transferred to the Taos County jail this week to face charges.

“The charges are as follows,” Shannon said, opening the March 21 arraignment. “Kidnapping in the first degree with intent to commit a sexual offense, a first-degree felony; kidnapping in the second degree, two counts, second-degree felonies; aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, three counts, fourth-degree felonies.”

Shannon then began tallying up the sentence the defendant might face if convicted on the charges. The possible sentencing for each, he noted, had been extended due to the defendant’s alleged use of a firearm during the incident.

“You are looking at 18 years in prison for this first-degree felony alone,” Shannon said. “And kidnapping in the second degree carries up to nine years in prison for each count. Do you know what nine years in prison means?” he asked.

“I know what prison is,” Orozco responded.

Shannon continued with his calculation and told Orozco he faced a maximum sentence of 56 1/2 years in prison.

A “no bond” was assigned for the defendant, ensuring that – as the case moves through the court system – Orozco will remain incarcerated in the Taos County Adult Detention Center. There he joins his brother, 22-year-old Rafael Orozco, also facing felony charges for the alleged assault in September 2016 of his girlfriend, newborn baby and a health care worker at Holy Cross Hospital.

A preliminary hearing is to be scheduled for Cristian Orozco within 10 days.

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