More than half of pretrial detention requests denied, DA's office says
August 16, 2017 10:16 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- KOB has been taking a close look at pretrial release standards in Bernalillo County from all sides, monitoring the district attorney's efforts to keep violent offenders in jail before release.
It turns out some high profile offenders seem to have slipped through the cracks.
According to records obtained by KOB, more than half the times District Attorney Raul Torrez's office has requested a judge keep someone in jail, the request has been denied. Eight offenders released pretrial were flagged by metro-area law enforcement agencies as serious repeat offenders.
Through an initial analysis of cases currently under prosecution in Bernalillo County, KOB has learned more than half of the DA's requests for pretrial jail time have been denied by judges since Torrez took over the office from Kari Brandenburg in January 2017.
According to records, attorneys with Torrez's office asked a judge to keep an offender behind bars before trial in 332 cases. Second Judicial District Court judges denied pretrial detention requests in 170 of those cases, freeing people accused of everything from murder to armed robbery.
Gloria Chavez was charged with murder in June for her part in three Albuquerque killings. She was one accused offender released pretrial, according to records. Chavez disappeared for a month and let her ankle monitor run out of batteries until she was re-arrested Monday.
Eight offenders freed before trial were identified as serious, high-profile repeat offenders by the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office's ALeRT program. Six of those offenders have been re-arrested since release.
But two offenders identified by law enforcement as top priorities are still free pretrial. One is Melissa Willis, a career criminal with charges ranging from auto theft to fraud to forgery.
Bernalillo County judges are currently using a new risk assessment tool developed by the Arnold Foundation to decide on pretrial detention. Second Judicial District Chief Judge Nan Nash told KOB judges are asked to follow the recommendations generated by the Arnold risk assessment formula to decide on pretrial detention. Nash said other factors are still considered.
Updated: August 16, 2017 10:16 PM
Created: August 16, 2017 08:52 PM
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