Attorneys file motion to suppress evidence in Solomon Peña case

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Solomon Peña – who police called an election denier – grabbed national headlines after investigators say he paid four men to carry out shootings at local politicians’ homes.

Now, some evidence in the case is now getting called into question. It’s a legal move by one of the co-defendants in this case. 

Attorneys claim constitutional rights were violated when Peña’s car was impounded and searched, leading to crucial evidence in this case. 

The question is: Will a judge decide deputies made a mistake during the early stages of this investigation?

Video shows the traffic stop that lead to crucial evidence in the case against Peña. It shows Jose Trujillo behind the wheel of Peña’s care. He told officers he’s Peña friend and that he’s borrowing Peña’s car.

Trujillo’s attorney filed a motion to get what is revealed next thrown out of court. Recent court filings say a gun matched ballistics tests police connected to a January shooting they accused Peña of organizing.

“The evidence we have is not only firearm, but it’s also cell phones and electronic records,” said APD Commander Kyle Hartsock in December 2022. 

However, Trujillo’s attorney is challenging how deputies searched Peña’s car, and their decision to impound the car even though it was parked on private property.

They argue that constitutional rights were violated despite those rights coming up on the night in question.

The legal argument is called “fruits of the poisonous tree.” If the defense can show the search was illegal then all the “fruits,” the evidence produced from that search, or the metaphorical tree should not be allowed.

So what happens next?

The federal government has not responded to the arguments. They did ask the court to push back the next hearing. But it is not uncommon to see these types of legal challenges ahead of a big trial.

Peña is facing 11 different charges related to guns and interfering with public officials. 

Trujillo is facing gun and drug charges for fentanyl investigators say they found that night.