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Silver City district attorney charged after DWI traffic stop

Caleb James and J.R. Oppenheim
June 09, 2017 07:01 AM

SILVER CITY, N.M. -- The district attorney in Silver City now faces criminal charges after she was pulled over and appeared to be intoxicated on police body camera.

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Matt Baca, an assistant attorney general, confirmed the charges against Francesca Estevez Thursday afternoon. Estevez serves as attorney general for Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties.

Last June, a driver captured video of a Dodge sedan swerving on Highway 180 near Silver City, and that driver informed police. When Silver City police pulled the vehicle over, Estevez told them she had a flat tire. Those officers helped her replace it.

However, Estevez slurred her speech and twice fell into the passenger seat of her car.

At some point, New Mexico State Police arrived on the scene and Estevez was allowed to leave. She ran into a curb as she drove off. 

The incident led to a state police internal investigation.

The state has since charged Estevez with five counts, including reckless driving, harassment and prohibited political activity. The three remaining counts are ethical principles of public service, or using powers and resources as a public official for her own benefit in an unethical manner. 

Click here to read the criminal complaint in full

Click here for a list of charges against Estevez

The harassment and ethics charges are related to Estevez's alleged intimidation of an officer on scene during the traffic stop. 

Attorney Jim Foy, who represents Estevez, said he was blindsided by the charges.

"I literally was in the middle of dealing with a client in real estate matters and you [at KOB] call and what you tell me is, 'Hey, have you seen the criminal complaint?' and I'm like 'No, I haven't.'"

Foy concedes there are charges on the docket that make more sense than others.

"I understand the reckless or careless driving of the charging," he said. "Beyond that, I don't."

Foy has represented Estevez since news of her traffic stop broke last year.

"I find it incredibly odd that almost a year to the day of the events after two agencies have done nothing, the attorney general in its infinite wisdom has decided they want to charge Ms. Estevez on charges that on their face, out of the box, to me seem pretty odd," Foy said.

Beyond confirming the charges filed against Estevez, the attorney general's office would not comment further on the details of their investigation.

Credits

Caleb James and J.R. Oppenheim

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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