The Docket – October 11

Compiled John Miller
Posted 10/10/18

The following is a selected overview of recent case activity in or related to the Taos County court system. All dates and times are subject to change.

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The Docket – October 11


The following is a selected overview of recent case activity in or related to the Taos County court system. All dates and times are subject to change.


Oct. 15

Jose Coca, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Coca, a 57-year-old Ranchos de Taos man, is set to appear for trial next week on a child sexual abuse case filed in July 2017. According to a grand jury indictment obtained in February, Coca sexually abused a child under 13-years-old. Coca faces a total of three counts related to the alleged abuse.

Oct. 29

Cristian Orozco, jury trial – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

A jury trial previously scheduled for Orozco, an Española man accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old girl in Peñasco in 2017, has been reset for the end of the month.

During the incident, Orozco allegedly forced entry into a home in Peñasco, where his victim was staying with her grandparents. Orozco allegedly brandished a handgun upon entry, assaulted the girl’s family and kidnapped her at gunpoint. Orozco then fled south with the girl to the Española area, where he was arrested by police, and the victim was safely recovered the following morning Feb. 26.

Orozco faces a total of nine counts, including three counts of kidnapping, two for aggravated assault, one for aggravated burglary, one for abuse of a child and one for armed robbery.

On Aug. 6, the defendant’s defense attorney, Ben Mondragon, filed a motion to dismiss seven of the charges, arguing that the court had amended the criminal complaint associated with the case after an original complaint had been filed.

“The defendant was not given any notice of the proposed amendments or substantial additions to the criminal complaint,” Mondragon wrote in the motion.

He also argued that an inadequate amount of time was provided to cross-examine witnesses related to the case before the additional charges were added, violating Orozco’s right to due process.

As of press time Wednesday (Oct. 10), however, all nine counts in the complaint remained, without an order submitted by the court in response to Mondragon’s motion, according to court records.

For more on this story, refer to our past coverage.

Other events

Oct. 1

Martin Rivera, ruling to suppress – Taos District Court, Courtroom A, Judge Sarah Backus

Judge Backus ruled early this month to suppress photo evidence obtained from a victim of a 2017 armed robbery who had identified Martin Rivera of Ranchos de Taos as the man who had robbed him.

Rivera was charged with a series of crimes in April 2017, including stealing a black 2014 Toyota Tundra from a man in the parking lot of the Ranchos de Taos parking lot. The suspect then fled south with the vehicle to the Albuquerque area, where he was later arrested with a female juvenile who had accompanied him during the crime spree.

According to court records, the victim whose car had been stolen from him went to report the crime to the Taos County Sheriff’s Office not long after the theft had occurred. After hearing the victim’s account, a member of the sheriff’s office showed him a mug shot of Rivera, whom the victim quickly identified as the man who had robbed him.

Later that day, the victim was also shown a photo array that included several possible suspects and again identified Rivera as the suspect. According to Backus, the presentation of a photo array was the proper procedure to follow when asking a victim to identify the perpetrator of a crime.

“As described, the one-person show-up was improper,” she wrote in her ruling to suppress the photo evidence this month.

John Lovelace of the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office had argued before the court that because the suspect was at large and armed with a weapon, the urgency of the situation warranted the unusual photo identification process.

Backus disagreed, saying that “it would not have taken very long to gather several more photos of potential suspects ...”

A second case containing an aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer charge related to the same incident was also filed in Taos District Court and has been joined for purposes of resolving the all counts filed if and when the case goes to trial.

For more on this case, refer to our past coverage.


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