4 Investigates: Justice delayed for grieving mother | KOB 4

4 Investigates: Justice delayed for grieving mother

Chris Ramirez
September 10, 2019 06:55 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— After a grieving mother received more than a dozen delays in a criminal case against the man accused of killing her son in 2016, she is now accusing the district attorney prosecuting the case of being too focused on his congressional campaign.


Joe Davis was killed July 30, 2016 while heading back from a concert with his friend Asa Jay Carter.  A Santa Fe Police report states Davis was the passenger in a black SUV and Carter was the driver. At West San Francisco and Sandoval Streets in Santa Fe, Carter struck a pole.  Davis was found dead.  Police reported finding a bottle of Captain Morgan and a can of Modelo beer inside the vehicle.  According to District Attorney Marco Serna, a toxicology report found Carter had alcohol, methamphetamines, cocaine, amphetamines and marijuana in his system.

It took half a year for a grand jury to indict Carter on a homicide by vehicle charge.  Since then, Cindy Ortega, Davis’s mother, has received 15 letters from District Attorney Serna’s office notifying her of a delay in the case.

“We're trying to heal from the damage of all of this and then we are thrust into the criminal justice system where they are pretty numbed out from folks like me and others,” Ortega said. 

Ortega said, at first she liked the idea of restorative justice for Carter, meaning instead of prison time, he would take a plea deal with that included rehabilitation for any addiction issues.

“Restorative justice was attractive to me in the beginning because of my religion,” Ortega said.  “I wanted him to get into some type of rehab program so that he wouldn't kill himself or someone else or injure another family.”

When the KOB 4 Investigates Team met Serna, we asked why his office had delayed the case so many times. Serna explained that Carter’s defense attorney changed three times and two different prosecutors were assigned to the case.  But KOB 4 Investigates wanted to know—how does he account for the other 10 delays?

“We were trying to get this individual into a program that we were comfortable with to make sure he actually gets the right treatment,” Serna said.  “We want long-term help for him to make sure this type of situation doesn't happen again.”

Records indicate, Carter has never received any court mandated treatment.  Serna told KOB 4, Delancy Street, a rehabilitation center in northern New Mexico rejected Carter.  With 15 delays and three years of frustrations, Ortega accused Serna of not being focused on the duties at the DA’s office.  Serna is running for New Mexico’s Congressional District seat, being vacated by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.

“I think he has political aspirations, especially now,” Ortega said.  “He is not even taking care of problems at the DA's Office, how is he possibly going to be a leader and a voice for such a larger constituency?  I am very disappointed to know that that is where his energies are being spent, instead of helping victims.”

“I respectfully disagree with that,” Serna said.  “I'm in the office every day discussing cases with my attorneys every day, responding to media inquiries every day.  Respectfully, I disagree.  I understand that she is hurting right now and that is OK.  I just respectfully disagree with her.” 

Ortega has given hope on restorative justice and is now most interested in closure.  She believes her grieving process has stalled because of the delays in the criminal case.  A trial docket is scheduled for October, but Ortega doesn’t have faith that the court date will actually happen.

“I don't believe them.  I've heard that too many times.”


Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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