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A head-scratching prosecutorial misstep caused a New Mexico judge to dismiss all charges against three of the five defendants arrested at a suspected Muslim extremest compound earlier this month.
Judge Emilio Chavez said Wednesday he had no choice but to release defendants Lucas Morton, Subhanna Wahhaj and Hujrah Wahhaj because state prosecutors failed to schedule a probable cause hearing within 10 business days of their arrest, as required by law.
The article goes on to state the following:
Despite the seriousness of the charges and the high-profile nature of the case, the district attorney’s office apparently failed to follow through on routine criminal procedure.
“For whatever reason, the state did not obtain a preliminary hearing date within 10 days,” said Aleksandar Kostich, a public defender representing Morton, according to the Washington Post. “It’s absolutely bizarre.”
Megan Mitsunaga, the public defender representing Subhanna Wahhaj, said the district attorney’s office provided no explanation as to why it did not schedule the probable cause hearing.
“I would have thought they’d be more on top of things, the way they continued to seek to hold them without bond,” she said, according to WaPo.
According to the report, Judge Jeff McElroy likewise criticised prosecutors when he dismissed the charges against Leveille and Siraj Wahhaj.
“I don’t know if they are overworked or they don’t have enough people at their office,” McElroy reportedly said. “I don’t see [District Attorney Donald Gallegos] here or the chief deputy district attorney, but it is disturbing to me that the district attorney would put this court in that kind of a situation.”
#NewMexico #ChildAbduction suspect released with no trial.”For whatever reason the state did not obtain a preliminary hearing date within 10 days,” a public defender representing Mr Morton, told The Washington Post. “It’s absolutely bizarre.” https://t.co/dBzpEidXdB pic.twitter.com/2AD3Lq79xS
— IndyRadio (@iRadioTube) August 30, 2018
“For whatever reason, the state did not obtain a preliminary hearing date within 10 days,” https://t.co/8GGiFARV8H
— Michelle (@whatsyour_20) August 30, 2018
Prosecutor error leads to dropped charges in New Mexico compound child abuse case https://t.co/41lCYe92qd
— JoeTrudeau (@IAmJoeTrudeau) August 30, 2018
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