The following is a selected overview of recent case activity in or related to the Taos County court system. All dates and times are subject to change. For past coverage of these cases, refer to the …
The following is a selected overview of recent case activity in or related to the Taos County court system. All dates and times are subject to change. For past coverage of these cases, refer to the Taos News website at taosnews.com.
No trials were scheduled for the selected cases as of press time Wednesday (Nov. 13).
Requildo Cardenas, bench warrant issued - Taos District Court, Courtroom B, judge unassigned
A warrant has been issued for Requildo Cardenas to appear in an aggravated assault upon a peace officer case filed in August 2017.
Cardenas was charged that month with attempting to use a vehicle to run down three law enforcement officers who were trying to arrest him on a warrant in Fred Baca Park. When Cardenas attempted to drive away, one of the officers fired through the vehicle's windshield, missing Cardenas and striking a female passenger in the abdomen. She recovered and the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting. Cardenas surrendered and was taken into custody at the scene, but officers alleged that he drove in a manner that threatened their safety.
Several trial dates have been scheduled and subsequently cancelled since the case was initially filed, most recently on Oct. 21.
Several parkgoers witnessed the incident in 2017, and subpoenas have been filed for some of them to appear when the case eventually reaches a trial.
Ricky Romero, motion to dismiss - Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Emilio Chavez
Alan Maestas, a private defense attorney based in Taos, filed a motion last month to dismiss half the counts filed against a Taos County Sheriff's sergeant charged in a Medicaid fraud, falsification of documents and perjury case pending in Taos District Court for two years.
In a brief filed with the motion, Maestas argued that the New Mexico attorney general's office did not have probable cause to charge Sgt. Ricky Romero with one count of Medicaid fraud and 10 counts of falsification of documents, which are described under the Medicaid Fraud Act.
Those charges and 10 counts of perjury were brought to trial against Sgt. Romero in August 2018, but a jury could not reach a consensus as to whether the sergeant had committed the crimes. Prosecutors allege that Romero falsified 10 time sheets submitted between April 2012 and September 2013 to Options Homecare Inc., a Denver-based caretaking company. The state claimed Romero was filing for hours reimbursable by Medicaid, claiming he was caring for his elderly neighbor, while he also being paid for hours worked at the sheriff's office. Prosecutors argued Romero couldn't have been doing both at once.
In a brief filed with his motion to dismiss, Maestas argued that the state had "incorrectly interpreted the Medicaid Fraud Statues in a manner in which the Legislature did not intend." Maestas had made similar arguments during the trial in 2018.
In response, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Martinez argued that Maestas' motion - one of several similar motions filed over the last two years - had no basis in fact and were only resulting in further delays in bringing the case to a new trial.
Martin Rivera, grand jury indictment - Taos District Court, Courtroom B, judge unassigned
A grand jury indicted Martin Rivera for second-degree murder and six other counts on Thursday (Nov. 7) in connection to the killing of Javier Muñoz in El Prado in October.
Rivera was arrested in Colorado last month in connection to the crime, which alleges he shot Muñoz on Sugar Lane in El Prado on Oct. 19. First responders found Muñoz and transported him to Holy Cross Medical Center, where he died of a bullet wound to the abdomen.
Rivera was held in Colorado until Taos County Sheriff's deputies extradited him back to Taos County last week for the grand jury hearing.
While the arrest warrant affidavit filed in the case remained under seal at the courts as of press time Wednesday (Nov. 13), Taos County Undersheriff Steve Miera indicated that at least one witness at the scene of the fatal shooting provided testimony to the grand jury. Charges in the indictment indicate that Rivera's gunfire wounded another person at the scene of the shooting and that he later attempted to hide the firearm used in the incident.
In addition to second-degree murder, Rivera was also charged with shooting at or from a motor vehicle resulting in great bodily harm; a lesser count of shooting at or from a motor vehicle resulting in personal injury; tampering with evidence; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon; and receiving a stolen firearm.
Gregg Steele, notice of intent to call witnesses - Taos District Court, Courtroom B, judge unassigned
The chief deputy district attorney at the 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office filed a notice this week of his intent to call witnesses in a murder case filed against Gregg Steele, a 51-year-old man charged with shooting and killing World Cup Café owner Patrick Larkin on Aug. 27 in Llano Quemado.
The notice names 18 witnesses, including members of the Taos County Sheriff's Office and New Mexico State Police, the agency that investigated the case. Other witnesses include Steele's ex-fiancée, who testified at a detention hearing in September that resulted in Steele's detainment at the Taos County jail pending trial.
Two weeks after Larkin's body was found in the sagebrush on Cuchilla Road, about a mile west of where he had lived, state police investigators arrested Steele, claiming they had collected evidence to prove he shot and killed Larkin early the morning of Aug. 27.
According to residents in the area who were interviewed by investigators, Steele had moved in next door to Larkin over the summer. They said the two men had developed an ongoing dispute over Steele's dog crossing into Larkin's property and harassing his goats.
At the September detention hearing, the state submitted 27 exhibits to argue that Steele was too dangerous to be released pending trial, including an interview with Steele's Llano Quemado landlord, who told them Steele had confessed to killing Larkin.
Steele, however, argued he had killed the coffee shop owner in self-defense.
- Compiled by John Miller
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