State Supreme Court to hear appeal of indictment
The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear an appeal filed by Clovis attorney Kirk Chavez that challenges the grand jury indictment of his client charged with murder.
The court recently issued an order halting the murder trial of Enrique Deleon and set a hearing for March 10 in Santa Fe. The justices will consider Chavez's appeal charging that grand jurors were being routinely excused by District Attorney Matt Chandler's staff in violation of state law.
Chandler and 9th Judicial District Court Chief Judge Teddy Hartley say Chandler's staff did nothing wrong and acted in a clerical capacity in excusing grand jurors who were unable to attend deliberations. Both said the practice was simply a continuation of a system the court had been using for years.
Hartley later issued an order specifying that only court staff could excuse grand jurors from service after Chavez challenged the procedure.
Chandler contends the appeal is another delay tactic by Chavez, who was cited by Hartley as being unprepared for trial on Feb. 5, the day a jury was to be selected for Deleon's trial in Clovis. Hartley's citation was part of an order granting a continuance of the trial; the third in six months, according to Chandler.
Chavez said he was prepared for trial.
"We look forward to the Supreme Court's second review of the record in this case," Chandler said in an email, "and, for the sake of everyone involved, hope to have the facts of this double murder litigated in front of a jury as soon as possible."
Deleon is charged in the September 2011 shooting deaths of Joe Valero, 44, and Lupita Casteneda, 25, of Clovis during a backyard barbecue at their home in the 1000 block of Prince Street.
— Robin Fornoff