Car crash defendant released on bond


Juan Espinoza, a 21-year-old Bakersfield, California, resident charged with multiple counts of homicide by vehicle connected to a Sept. 30 car crash that killed two people and critically injured one other, was released on bond from Taos County Adult Detention Center this week.

During an Oct. 5 hearing in Taos Magistrate Court, Espinoza’s original $200,000 cash-only bond was reduced to a $20,000 cash surety bond, requiring that the defendant post only 10 percent of the bond’s full amount in order to be released – or just $2,000.

According to court records and contrary to what some connected to the case had expected, the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office did not seek a no-bond hold in district court for the case, which would have kept the defendant incarcerated until trial.

During last week’s hearing, the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office had initially recommended a $10,000 cash surety bond, but Chief Judge Ernest Ortega required the amount be doubled before it would accepted by the court. Ortega had deemed Espinoza to be a flight risk during an Oct. 3 arraignment due to a lack of ties to the state, but because of new court rules that went into effect earlier this year, he was unable to keep the defendant behind bars.

Law enforcement booked Espinoza in county jail following the Sept. 30 crash, which occurred along State Road 68 early in the morning Sept. 30.

Hannah Metzger, 25, a seasonal resident of Taos and Santa Fe from Delray Beach, Florida, and Cedrick Kober, 33, a seasonal resident of Santa Fe from Little River, South Carolina, both died in the crash. The third victim, Cody Woolard, 26, of Taos, remains in critical condition, according to the most recent updates from officials.

Following his release, Espinoza is expected to return to California, where he would be required to maintain contact with his attorney and appear for court dates in his case. If the defendant were to violate any of his conditions of release, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.

A preliminary examination is scheduled for Oct. 26, a Thursday, at 1:30 p.m. in Taos Magistrate Court, Courtroom A.