Taos compound: Defendants file motion to have some charges dropped

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TAOS, N.M. — After years of investigation, there’s new information tonight on the Taos compound where the FBI and the Taos County Sheriff’s Department found five adults, 11 malnourished children, and the body of a 3-year-old boy.

Late last week, a judge ruled all five defendants are competent to stand trial. Now, they can move forward with the next steps in this case.

However, this week, the lawyers filed six motions. The prosecution and the judge have not responded yet.

Off the bat, the defense filed multiple motions to get the judge to drop all kidnapping charges.

They claim all the defendants, including Abdul’s father, Siraj Wahhaj, are immune to kidnapping statutes because Abdul’s dad had legal custody of him at the time and they never asked Abdul’s mother for a ransom.

The defense is also asking the judge to throw out any evidence the sheriff’s office and FBI obtained from the compound during a 2018 search warrant.

The defense claims the sheriff’s office lied to a judge in order to get the search warrant. The motion says the sheriff’s office stretched the truth about what they saw through aerial surveillance. They allegedly told a judge Abdul’s father was a wanted felon when Wahhaj has never been charged with a felony.

Next, the defense is asking the judge to deny the state’s expert witness from testifying.

The state’s expert is expected to testify about how he believed 3-year-old Abdul died. But the defense argues he is not qualified to testify on that issue. To back up their claim, they also released Abdul’s autopsy report where his official cause of death is listed as undetermined.

Finally, the defense submitted a motion that claims the Taos County sheriff refused to talk to the defense lawyers after he was listed as a witness in the case.  The sheriff is quoted saying he had direct orders from the FBI to not talk to the opposing counsel.

Now, the defense says they have a right to interview all witnesses in preparation for the trial. They are asking the judge to order the Taos County sheriff to testify under oath in an evidence hearing.