High-profile murder case faces delays due to shortage of public defenders

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A shortage of public defenders in the Albuquerque metro is preventing a high-profile case from moving forward.

Hearings for the murder suspects arrested following the drive-by shooting outside Isotopes Park have been delayed. 11-year-old Froylan Villegas was killed and his cousin was severely injured after their family was mistakenly targeted that night.

At this point, a judge was expected to rule whether Daniel Gomez and Nathan Garley would stay in jail until trial.

Garley was up first out of the three suspects. Garley showed up to court Wednesday but did not have a defense attorney assigned to his case yet, so they postponed his hearing.

Gomez had the same thing happen Thursday. His hearing was rescheduled after the judge found out he didn’t have an attorney.

Reps with the Public Defender’s Office say their attorneys are stretched thin.

“It is very difficult to recruit public defenders and district attorneys so that surge of warrants is just going to be extremely difficult for those attorneys who already have very high caseloads,” said Dennica Torres, District Defender with the Second Judicial District.

The Public Defender’s Office was able to find attorneys for both Gomez and Garley Thursday afternoon.

Garley is set for another pretrial detention hearing Friday morning and Gomez has been rescheduled for Oct. 3.