‘Cruelly ironic’: Domestic violence advocate failed by the system she works in
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Loryn Trujillo is sitting in a position she never thought she’d experience, coming forward as a victim of domestic violence.
“I’ll never get my son’s screams out of my head ever, terrifying screams,” she explained. She says her boyfriend of a couple of months at the time, Brian Velarde, snapped on her and her son back in January.
“He just snapped. He literally just snapped. And I had never seen him like that,” said Trujillo. “He attacked me and my son. My son was in my arms the whole time. Took a couple swats at us and he just attacked us.”
Trujillo had bruises on her neck, arms, and hand, that investigators say they noticed the night of the incident.
“What a cruelly ironic thing to happen to me, and not just me, my son,” she said. The irony stems from her job.
She’s a victim advocate working in the state court system, guiding other victims through their cases.
“You want to make an impact, and not re-victimize these people. And you want to be there to support them,” Trujillo said. “But that doesn’t always happen, because there are flaws, and there are holes in the criminal justice system.”
She started to see those flaws and holes in her own case months after the incident happened. She was hoping for a child abuse charge because her son was there, but prosecutors decided on misdemeanor battery.
Since the alleged crime happened in the same district where she works, prosecutors transferred it to the 11th Judicial District in Farmington.
“I put my faith in the system, because why wouldn’t I? It’s my job. This is what I do. I know when it works properly, it works,” said Trujillo.
A month after it was transferred, the defense asked the state for evidence in May. Documents show the state did not meet the deadline to respond, so the defense asked a judge to exclude all of it. Again, the state did not respond, and the judge granted the request.
The state filed one more motion at the end of last month for the judge to reconsider, but the defense won again, and left Trujillo hopeless.
“So helpless, re-victimized,” she explained. “It’s like this happened all over again to me.”
She says it would be easy to give up on the system after this experience, but she won’t let down other victims.
“I don’t want this to ever happen to anyone, again, in the sense that they’re not getting treated fairly, or they’re not getting the justice they deserve,” Trujillo said.
A representative from the District Attorney’s office in the 11th Judicial District gave a statement about the case, saying, “Our office did not respond timely to a motion to exclude evidence. The court granted the motion and we have appealed that decision arguing the that exclusion was an unnecessary remedy.”
There is no hearing set for that appeal yet.