Felon charged with attempted murder released to treatment

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 4/18/19

When Joey Mares, 22, was charged with attempted murder in November while on probation for prior felony convictions, 8th Judicial District Court Judge Emilio Chavez ruled that he was too dangerous to …

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Felon charged with attempted murder released to treatment

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When Joey Mares, 22, was charged with attempted murder in November while on probation for prior felony convictions, 8th Judicial District Court Judge Emilio Chavez ruled that he was too dangerous to be released from the Taos County jail.

But this month Chavez reversed that decision by sending the 22-year-old to a treatment program in Albuquerque.

Mares, who is from Ranchos de Taos, will attend the New Life Program, part of a Christian-based rehabilitation program called Steel Bridge that provides services to the city’s homeless population.

The 13- to 18-month program requires offenders to remain alcohol and drug free while they follow a strict curriculum meant to address underlying emotional problems, root causes of addiction and help them develop new relationship skills.

Such programs often accept younger offenders, who might have a better shot, some argue, at departing from a criminal course than those who have sunk deeper into a criminal career.

“It’s better than being in detention,” Chavez told Mares at a hearing this month, according to log notes filed with the case.

“I’ve been before,” Mares said in response, the notes indicate.

Court records agree: Mares is no stranger to criminal cases and convictions, or court rulings that have granted him clemency.

In March 2017, Mares pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and nonresidential burglary, charges that he picked up in three cases over a two-year period.

Instead of prison, however, he was sentenced to probation at a residential drug treatment program in Carlsbad called Villa de Esperanza. He was then required to complete the remainder of his sentence through the Taos District Court “drug court” program.

Mares never made it through.

A probation violation was issued in November after Mares was charged with three additional felonies for allegedly attempting to murder Javier Munoz-Rivera during a drive-by shooting in Ranchos de Taos in September.

At a detention hearing last year, Judge Chavez signed an order for “temporary pretrial detention” for Mares that listed several reasons why he should be held in jail until trial.

“There is strong evidence that the defendant shot a firearm from a motor vehicle at another occupied motor vehicle several times,” it states.

It goes on to note that Mares had been on probation when the new charges were filed.

“Being on probation for these convictions has not been sufficient to prevent the defendant from engaging in new criminal behavior and will not protect the community and other persons from the danger posed by the defendant.”

But Mare’s defense attorney, Ben Mondragon, filed a motion to review the detention order this month. Mondragon told the court that Mares had been accepted into the Albuquerque program with a letter signed by its director, John Hill.

“Is it possible to get conditions of release for Joey?” Hill inquired in the letter. “It has been six months since he has been incarcerated. Thanks.”

While Judge Chavez expressed skepticism at the hearing about whether Mares should again be granted release, he agreed to the order, which was later signed by Judge Jeff McElroy.

“This is your last chance of being out of jail,” Chavez warned Mares at the hearing.

Jail log sheets submitted by Taos County as of press time Wednesday (April 17) indicate that Mares is no longer in custody.

He is the second felon in his 20s who has been granted release into treatment in recent months.

On April 8, Martin Rivera, a Ranchos de Taos man who was convicted in January of stabbing a man and robbing another person at gunpoint, was sentenced to five years probation to be served at another long-term treatment program in the state.

A jury trial in Mares’ case is set for June 10.

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