Defense motions could sidetrack trial in Taos compound case

TAOS, N.M. (AP) — A judge has ruled five defendants are competent to stand trial more than four years after they were found in a squalid New Mexico compound with 11 malnourished children and the body of a young boy.

But multiple motions filed by defense lawyers last week may slow the proceedings again.

Taos County sheriff’s officials raided the compound in remote northern New Mexico in August 2018, saying they also discovered a firing range and firearms.

In a second search days later, authorities reported recovering the decomposing remains of a 3-year-old boy from an underground tunnel.

Authorities said the child was the son of one of the five adult suspects and had been reported missing by his mother in Georgia.

All five members of the extended family are charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and providing material support to terrorists.

Their attorneys said the defendants would not be facing terrorism-related charges if they were not Muslim.

Albuquerque TV station KOB reports that defense lawyers filed motions last week trying to get the judge to drop all kidnapping charges.

The group says they’re immune to kidnapping statutes because the dead boy’s father had legal custody of him at the time.

They also say the autopsy report lists the official cause of death as undetermined.

In addition, defense attorneys are asking the judge to throw out any evidence the sheriff’s office and FBI obtained from the compound during execution of the search warrant.

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