Quay woman sentenced in child drowning case

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom New Mexico

TUCUMCARI — A Tucumcari woman convicted of giving alcohol to a 12-year-old boy who drowned a few hours later has been sentenced to five years probation.

Crystal Cochran, during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, was also ordered to participate in a drug-abuse recovery program and undergo mental health counseling.

Cochran pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a crime and to four counts of selling or giving alcohol to a minor.

Augustine “Augie” Montiel, 12, drowned in a Tucumcari irrigation canal in May 2006 after consuming alcohol at Cochran’s apartment, court documents said. Cochran was 18 at the time.

The boy’s blood-alcohol level was .13, police said. The legal limit for adults is .08.

Cochran could have been sentenced to nine years in jail.

Gina Alderete, Augie Montiel’s godmother and aunt, said she was disappointed in Judge Gene Franchini’s sentence because Cochran will not spend time in jail unless she violates terms of the probation.

“He (Augie) didn’t have a chance,” Alderete said. Cochran got a second chance, she said.

Cochran spoke briefly to the court.

“I want to change,” she said. “I know I made a bad mistake.”

Cochran’s mother, Judy Cochran, said her daughter knows she made a mistake allowing Augie and three other boys to stay in her apartment when she discovered they were drinking alcohol. “She loved the boy (Augie) like a brother and is still grieving,” Judy Cochran said.

Crystal Cochran had been using marijuana and methamphetamine, according to court testimony.

Prosecutor Kirk Chavez told the court Crystal Cochran should be placed in an alternative incarceration program that provided for drug and independent counseling. Chavez said a court-ordered evaluation suggested Cochran needs counseling for substance abuse, emotional and mental problems and suicidal tendencies.

Chavez also said the evaluation cautioned against placing Cochran in a correctional facility where Montiel’s mother, Stella Chavez, was also incarcerated because Cochran could be victimized. Stella Chavez is incarcerated on drug charges that are not related to her son’s death.

A statement from Stella Chavez was read by her sister, Gina Alderete, at the hearing. In her statement, Chavez said the family could try to forgive Cochran someday, but that Cochran must be judged by God and the law for the loss of her son.

Fred Jaramillo, III, also faces charges in connection with Augie Montiel’s death. His case has not been set for trial.