Carla Casias, order extending time – Taos District Court, courtroom not specified, Judge T. Glenn Ellington
Judge Ellington stipulated an order this month to allow defense counsel for Casias and co-defendant Isaac Martinez additional time to respond to a state’s motion to admit cell phone evidence previously barred from an armed robbery case.
In 2013, a grand jury indicted Casias and Martinez on conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery after a gunman stole $110,000 in cash from an employee carrying a bank deposit in the parking lot of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. Critical to the indictments was the presentation of cell phone records belonging to the defendants that allegedly indicated their plot to carry out the robbery.
The cases were later thrown out, however, after former Taos District Court Judge John Paternoster learned that the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office had subpoenaed the cell phone records without the approval of a judge or grand jury. District Attorney Donald Gallegos and former prosecutor Emilio Chavez were reprimanded by the supreme court for the illegal issuance of the subpoenas.
The New Mexico Supreme Court in April reversed Paternoster’s decision to dismiss the grand jury indictments, reopening the case.
Since then, defense counsel for both Casias and Martinez has moved to suppress the cell phone evidence due to the unlawful subpoenas issued in 2013.
The Taos district attorney submitted a 17-page motion to reintroduce the records as the cases move forward. While it acknowledges that the records were “seized unlawfully,” it notes that they “would have been seized independently and lawfully in due course under New Mexico’s inevitable discovery rule ...”
On Monday (Dec. 3), Judge Ellington granted the defense until Jan. 15, 2019 to file its response to the state’s motion.
For more on this case, refer to our past coverage online at bit.ly/2zBSDaE.