Two high-profile DWI-related fatality cases granted extensions

Posted: December 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
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A five-car accident on Cerrillos leaves a pair of sisters dead and others injured. Photographed in Santa Fe, N.M. on Mar. 5, 2010. (Natalie Guillen/The New Mexican)

Defendants Scott Owens and James Ruiz, a pair of vehicular homicide defendants who had court hearings Friday before state district judge Michael Vigil, both had their cases postponed.

For Ruiz, who is accused of killing the Peshlakai sisters in March on Cerrillos Road after the pair were leaving a girls basketball game and returning home to northwest New Mexico, jury selection in his case has been pushed back to May 17. It is not uncommon for a case like this to get some extensions and his trial will be a little more than a year after the alleged crime.

Here is a blog I wrote last month about the Santa Fe Indian School girls basketball team honoring the Peshlakai parents and congrats to Newcombe High for retiring the girls basketball jerseys of Del Lynn, 17 and on last year’s team, and Deshauna, 19 and a former player, during a ceremony Thursday night at halftime of a boys basketball game.

As for Owens, the man accused of being drunk and killing four local teens in a June 2009 car crash on Old Las Vegas Highway, his extension until an April 11 jury selection and anticipated week long trial was less expected, is far more unique. He was to stand trial next month.

That will be nearly two years after the crash and while this case is complicated (certainly not a slam dunk despite evidence he was drinking), there is some expectation that matters eventually get resolved, even if state prosecutors and the defendant himself agreed Friday that the matter can’t proceed at this time (an expert witness is still waiting for all evidence from the state crime lab before making his ruling).

Deputy District Attorney Doug Couleur said “The general consensus (of the victim’s families) is frustration that it is taking so long.”

State District Judge Michael Vigil said he would “Grant the motion to continue, but this is the last motion.”

The defendant has been incarcerated this whole time so he obviously isn’t eager for continued delays, but defense attorney Dan Cron said it wouldn’t be right to proceed right now without the expert witnesses being able to review all the evidence.


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