I am a recovered alcoholic. I am all for someone taking responsibility for their own actions and seeking inpatient treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. I am, however, against Rafael Orozco, a violent gang member, and other bullies like him from him using addiction as an excuse to avoid prison.
I am a recovered alcoholic. I attend Alcoholics Anonymous several times a week, do volunteer work with individuals in the program and sponsor two lawyers. I am all for someone taking responsibility for their own actions and seeking inpatient treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.
I am, however, against Rafael Orozco, a violent gang member, and other bullies like him from him using addiction as an excuse to avoid prison.
Orozco was acquainted with the criminal justice system as a youth, and graduated to obtaining at least three felony convictions as an adult before coming before the court recently on several other felonies which included battering his wife, newborn baby and a security guard at Holy Cross Hospital; aggravated battery upon a peace officer; and while in Taos jail, battery on a female jailer, and several other felonies for joining with fellow gang member, Martin Rivera, in kicking another inmate 40 times.
After the new felonies and while in jail, Orozco through his counsel requested in a motion for review conditions of release that District Court Judge Jeff McElroy release him pending trial, and when the judge appropriately rejected his request, Orozco responded by shouting expletives at the judge as he exited the courtroom on his way back to his jail cell.
Under the habitual offender statute §31-18-17 NMSA (1978), District Attorney Marcus Montoya could have used Orozco's two prior convictions to enhance a potential sentence for up to 57 years. Why then did Montoya authorize a plea agreement on all pending felonies to only treatment at a drug facility followed by supervised probation and 40 hours of community service?
His deputy district attorney, Tim Hasson, at the sentencing gave the following reason: "We recognize that a lot of the defendants that we prosecute also need help, so we focus on the resources that are available ... but despite the prosecution aspects of it, Mr. Orozco might be surprised to learn that there's a great deal of compassion for him."
I challenge Hasson to name one person in our community other than Orozco's family that might want to have "compassion" for Orozco in light of all the harm he has inflicted. Orozco is like every other gang member in our community: a coward who inflicts injury on children and women.
One resource that DA Montoya had available for Orozco is prison - why not give Orozco an opportunity at true rehabilitation and treatment? Prison was and is the only remedy for gang members like Orozco; it also keeps our community safe.
Hasson: Why not "compassion" for our children, young mothers and elderly and the rest of our community? What are you going to be telling the future victims of Orozco? Montoya indicated that he gave such a generous plea to Orozco because two of the state's key witnesses had refused to cooperate on two of three cases pending against him. What Montoya doesn't realize is that he has subpoena power to bring witnesses to trial when they refuse to testify; furthermore, as our chief law enforcement officer and director of the largest law firm in Taos County, Montoya can request orders from the court to hold reluctant witnesses in jail until they testify at trial.
Montoya indicated that giving violent gang member Orozco a probated plea agreement was a "gamble." I agree. It is a gamble with bad odds that put our lives in the community at stake; and it is a gamble that we will lose this time and each time we have a violent gang member released back into our community.
I respectfully request that Montoya carefully consider the health and welfare of the community and take the cases of Orozco and other gang members in the future to trial. Please.
No more ridiculous probated plea deals for the most violent in our community.
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