The Docket, January 2020

Posted 1/10/20

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.

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The Docket, January 2020


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.


Jan. 13

Iesha Hartt, jury trial

Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Emilio Chavez

A trial has been scheduled for Monday (Jan. 13) in a case charging a Ranchos de Taos woman with causing a crash on State Road 68 in 2018 that killed her sister and injured eight other people.

Investigators with the Taos County Sheriff's Office determined that Iesha Hartt, 26, was drunk when she collided with two other vehicles just south of Ranchos de Taos the evening of Dec. 21, 2018. Celeste Montoya, Hartt's sister, who was riding in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, was killed in the crash. Three children riding in Hartt's back seat were also seriously injured, as were five other people riding in the other two vehicles involved in the collision.

Deputies who responded to the crash said Hartt showed "obvious signs of impairment" at the scene. She later admitted she had been drinking and recorded a blood alcohol content level of 0.11 when she took a breathalyzer test. The legal limit is .08.

The state will attempt to convict Hartt on six counts in an amended criminal complaint filed this month: homicide by vehicle; abuse of a child resulting in great bodily harm; abuse of a child not resulting in great bodily harm; two counts of great bodily harm by vehicle; and driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs.

Jan. 22

John Powell and Roger Gage, jury trial

Santa Fe District Court, courtroom unknown, Judge Jason Lidyard

Two Taos County brothers accused of shooting and killing three people in a house east of Dixon in 2018 are scheduled to appear for trial in Santa Fe this month.

John Powell, 36, and Roger Gage, 34, will be tried for the murders of April Browne, 42; Abraham Martínez, 36; and Kierin Guillemin, 27. The three victims were found dead in a bedroom in the home on May 29, 2018. Powell and Gage were arrested during a traffic stop in El Prado in Taos County in the days following the shootings and charged with the murders.

New Mexico State Police investigators said they collected video evidence from a home surveillance system that recorded the murders inside the home and showed the brothers rifling through drawers where they knew cash and drugs to be hidden.

Videos collected from the surveillance system are expected to play a key role in the state's prosecution of the case.

Other events

Jan. 6

Joseph Martinez, arraignment

Taos Magistrate Court, Courtroom A, Judge Ernest Ortega

A 20-year-old Arroyo Hondo man was arraigned on Monday (Jan. 6) on a count of aggravated fleeing related to a speeding incident on New Year's Eve.

According to a statement of probable cause filed with the case, Joseph Martinez fled from law enforcement after a Taos Pueblo police officer attempted to stop him on Paseo del Pueblo Sur just before midnight Dec. 31.

Dispatch reports later confirmed by Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, whose deputies joined in the pursuit, indicate Martinez reached speeds as fast as 100 miles per hour. Hogrefe temporarily called off the pursuit due to the high speeds as Martinez turned onto State Road 150 and continued through Arroyo Seco.

When Martinez reached El Salto, he attempted to turn around and allegedly struck the tribal police cruiser still in pursuit, causing his vehicle to do a 180-degree spin before sliding off the road and rolling. Martinez and a passenger, who has still not been identified, both bailed out of the vehicle. While Martinez was arrested at the scene, the passenger managed to escape on foot.

Martinez faces a maximum penalty of 18 months with the New Mexico Department of Corrections if he is found guilty of aggravated fleeing from a law enforcement officer, which is a fourth-degree felony.

"This is not something a normal person would do," said Taos Magistrate Court Judge Ernest Ortega, who presided over Martinez's arraignment Monday. Ortega ordered Martinez to undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations prior to his release on house arrest, a request which public defender Lisa Hamer objected to on the basis that no drug- or alcohol-related charges had been filed with the case, or in any prior case.

Martinez is next scheduled to appear for a preliminary examination on Jan. 21.

Jan. 9

Alvan Abeyta, preliminary examination

Taos Magistrate Court, Courtroom B, Judge Ernest Ortega

A Peñasco High School parent accused of beating his son and assaulting the school's principal following a disciplinary hearing in November is set to appear for a preliminary examination this month.

The state will present evidence on two charges filed against Alvan Abeyta in Taos Magistrate Court: child abuse and assault upon a school employee.

A Taos County Sheriff's deputy who investigated the incident on Nov. 20 arrested Abeyta, 44, after speaking with school employees who said they witnessed the alleged violent outburst.

- Compiled by John Miller


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