Joe Anderson case highlighted during testimony for rebuttable presumption

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SANTA FE, N.M. – State legislators are working through a number of crime bills, including one that would automatically keep the state’s most violent offenders behind bars until trial, also known as rebuttable presumption. 

But until it passes, some, like Joe Anderson, continue to reoffend.

Anderson was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2016. He was then charged with first-degree murder last year for killing a man in August. Last month, a district court judge ruled Anderson could be released on an ankle monitor pending trial.

Then, Monday, the state Supreme Court sided with an appeal by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and granted the state’s pretrial detention motion, saying Anderson should be in custody.

A day later, prosecutors learned Anderson cut the monitor off.

“There’s a number of law enforcement officers out there right now hunting him down, and he will be caught,” said Sam Bregman, Bernalillo County district attorney.

Bregman says it’s important to remember what these monitors do– and don’t do.

“Let’s remember what an ankle monitoring bracelet is all about. It’s not providing any safety to the community for a violent dangerous felon who’s now accused of being a murderer again. What it does is it tracks them,” said Bregman. 

The district attorney explained he used Anderson’s case– one among hundreds of violent offenders– during testimony in support of rebuttable presumption at the Roundhouse a week before he cut off his monitor.

“We simply cannot have violent offenders out there who are now charged with a new violent offense out there pretrial because it is not safe for this community,” said Bregman. 

If it passes, rebuttable presumption will mean there are certain crimes so violent in their nature, like murder and felony child abuse, there’s a presumption you should stay in jail while awaiting trial. The defense could make an argument for other conditions of release.

“The system’s broken and needs to be fixed,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, a sponsor of the bill. “I voted for the change in the Constitution about not keeping persons in jail because they couldn’t pay the bond. I get that, I understand it, but when we see how it’s being interpreted and put forward by the courts, I think we need to revisit and relook,” said Lopez. 

While it doesn’t mention GPS monitoring or suspects who cut off their ankle monitors in particular, Lopez says stay tuned, because there is still time to file legislation to be heard during this legislative session.