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Judge tosses rape case after court hearing

A judge determined there was insufficient evidence to proceed with rape charges against 18-year-old Isaiah Madrid.

Check out this story on Daily-Times.com

Farmington to settle wrongful arrest lawsuit

FARMINGTON — A Colorado man has settled his false arrest lawsuit against the Farmington Police Department.

Farmington City Attorney Jennifer Breakell said today the city has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle Christopher Winterhawk’s federal lawsuit. She said the settlement will be finalized next week.

Read More Here at Daily Times

Story by Steve Garrison, stgarrison@daily-times.com

State dismisses charges in Hopi Street shooting

20150220__TDT-L-BRF-WILSON-0221-p1FARMINGTON — The state dismissed charges today against Levi Wilson, one of two men charged with attempted murder in a Farmington shootout in July 2013 that killed Christopher Valdez. Read More at The Daily Times Website.

Steve Garrison 1:26 p.m. MDT June 8, 2016
Correctional officer charged with aggravated battery in beating at San Juan County Adult Detention Center
By Steve Garrison The Daily Times

John RobinsFARMINGTON — A 31-year-old man beaten by an officer at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center in July filed a tort claim notice last week alleging the officer violated his civil rights and caused serious injuries.Officer John Robins faces felony charges for aggravated battery in connection to the incident. Read more

 

DA change policy after man's questionable arrest

Daily TimesFARMINGTON — The questionable arrest earlier this year of a 46-year-old Ignacio, Colo., man has resulted in a lawsuit against the city of Farmington and a change of procedure at the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office.

Christopher Winterhawk states in the lawsuit filed on Nov. 9 that he was arrested on unfounded allegations that he burglarized a residence in Aztec earlier this year.

Winterhawk claims the officer who investigated the case, Jon Lillywhite, failed to contact him before seeking a warrant for his arrest and did not follow up on key pieces of evidence in the case, according to the lawsuit.

Winterhawk’s attorney, Arlon Stoker, said Monday that his client was charged based solely on the fact that his vehicle was found to be in possession of a woman suspected of forging stolen checks.

But Lillywhite never questioned Winterhawk, who says he would have told the officer he gave the vehicle to the woman, his ex-girlfriend, several months prior to the incident as a gift, according to Stoker.

“Why didn’t you make one phone call? Then you would have known he had nothing to do with it,” Stoker said, adding later. “Even with a half-assed investigation, he would have been cleared up right there.”

Winterhawk named the city of Farmington, police Chief Steve Hebbe and Lillywhite as defendants in the lawsuit. He seeks unspecified damages for false arrest and imprisonment and deprivation of civil rights.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe
Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe (Photo: Courtesy of Farmington Police Department)

Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen said Lillywhite was hired by the Farmington Police Department in August 2013. She said Lillywhite is not a detective, but is trained to conduct criminal investigations.

Allen declined to say why Lillywhite did not question Winterhawk before filing criminal charges, citing the lawsuit.

In a statement Hebbe said: “Just like complaints that we accept from the public, oftentimes things like this allow us to review our procedures and training to ensure they are everything we want.”

Farmington City Attorney Jennifer Breakell said she believed the officer acted properly and the city will defend itself in the lawsuit.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien said Monday he apparently authorized the warrant for Winterhawk, but he does not remember speaking with Lillywhite about the investigation. He said the case against Winterhawk was dismissed in July for lack of evidence and his office now requires prosecutors to record in writing all conversations with law enforcement officers regarding warrants.

According to the police report, Lillywhite was dispatched March 27 to the Walmart at 1400 W. Main St. in Farmington after receiving reports that two women had attempted to forge a check.

The women fled the store in a Chevrolet truck before Lillywhite arrived, but the officer seized the suspect checks left at the scene, which belonged to Mary Davis, the report states.

Later that day, the two women and an unidentified man attempted to use Davis’ checks to purchase items from The Arc of San Juan County at 200 W. Broadway Ave., the report states. An employee at the thrift store told Lillywhite he denied the sale and the suspects left the store in a blue Chevrolet truck bearing a Colorado license plate registered to Winterhawk.

The officer learned the checks were stolen during a burglary in Aztec.

Michelle Every was identified through an investigation as one of the two women who attempted to forge Davis’ checks and she was charged March 30 in Farmington Magistrate Court with two felony counts of forgery, according to court records.

Michelle Every
Michelle Every (Photo: Courtesy of San Juan County Adult Detention Center)

Every’s attorney, Ruth Wheeler, declined to comment when reached by phone on Monday.

Every has been charged or is suspected in several other check or credit card forgery cases and is accused of burglarizing a Farmington law office on Aug. 6. However, she was not charged with burglarizing Davis’ residence.

According to the police report, a Farmington police officer found the blue Chevrolet truck registered to Winterhawk on April 1 parked outside a residence at 408 Ouray Ave.

A man at the residence told Lillywhite that Winterhawk was allowing him to test drive the vehicle because he was thinking about purchasing it.

The man would not allow the officer to search the vehicle, so the department seized it and obtained a search warrant, the report states. On April 3, Lillywhite and a community service officer searched the vehicle and located eight-track tapes with Davis’ signature on them, according to the report.

Lillywhite then sought a warrant for Winterhawk’s arrest on charges of burglary and possession of stolen property.

Winterhawk was extradited from Ignacio, Colo., and charged April 6 in Farmington Magistrate Court with residential burglary, a third-degree felony, and receiving stolen property valued at $250 or less. He was held in Ignacio and at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

The charges were dismissed by prosecutors for lack of evidence on July 10.

Stoker said Lillywhite was “grossly incompetent” for failing to call his client about the truck.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien said after the case was dismissed he reviewed his phone records, which confirmed he spoke to Lillywhite for about a minute before the arrest warrant was issued.

But O’Brien said he may have told the officer that he needed more evidence and the officer misunderstood him.

“The officer claims I approved the warrant and, honestly, I don’t know,” O’Brien said. “I don’t remember the conversation, but my cell phone records show I did talk to him.”

O’Brien said prosecutors in his office met in August or September and agreed to create a written record whenever they discuss an investigation with law enforcement officers, so the details will be available if needed.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.

Story by The Daily Times

Lawsuit Filed for Man Shot by Farmington Police

Lawsuit Filed for Man Shot by Farmington Police

pulled-over-truckIn a previous post, we wrote about how Farmington Police Officer Christopher Blea shot and injured Michael Chavez, and how the department had been warned of Officer Blea’s aggressive behavior. Arlon Stoker has now filed a Notice of Tort Claim with the City of Farmington regarding police misconduct in Mr. Chavez’s case. Arlon Stoker stated that “The police were way out of line, you can’t use deadly force against someone who is not using deadly force against you, and is running away from you.” Stoker also said that Officer Blea nearly shot Sgt. Dave Monfils, who was also on scene. This is a case which shows the value of Mr. Stoker’s experience in civil rights cases involving police misconduct, and how his knowledge and experience benefit his clients. You can read more about the Notice of Tort Claim on The Daily Times Website.

Driver Is defended From DWI in Icy Conditions

Driver Is defended From DWI in Icy Conditions

IciclesJose Valencia, was defended from his ninth DWI charge by Mr. Stoker, who has succeeded in insuring that Mr. Valencia was properly represented. Mr. Valencia was found not guilty of his DWI charge after a waiting 10 months for his Trial. He had crashed a car in December of the previous year, in very icy conditions, and because of a slight intoxication he was accused of drinking and driving. Mr. Stoker showed the court through the testimony of the officer that arrived on the scene of the accident that anyone could have crashed in those icy conditions and that the crash was not a result of Mr. Valencia’s condition. This is just one example of Mr. Stoker’s ability to make the jury see your side of the case, whether it be police misconduct, wrongful death or as it was in this case, criminal defense. You can read the full story at The Daily Times website.

Officer Frazier Pleads Guilty In a Police Misconduct Case

Officer Frazier Pleads Guilty In a Police Misconduct Case

Farmington Police Misconduct

Arlon Stoker has served the cause of justice once again, as outlined in an article written by the Daily Times concerning the conviction of a police officer in a case of police misconduct. On June 27, 2012 Dale Frazier plead guilty to a federal civil rights violation in the beating of Donovan Tanner, a 22 year old Native American.

This case exemplifies well that Arlon Stoker is a strong advocate of eliminating police misconduct. Stoker’s client Mr. Tanner was initially charged with disarming a police officer, but when the video of Mr. Tanner being beaten with a flash light came to into the public eye the charges were quickly dismissed. Mr. Tanner’s case was settled for $250,000 at the conclusion of the case.

Mr. Frasier also lost his job at the sheriff’s department, is no longer allowed to work in law enforcement or own a gun, and was sentenced to 3 to 5 years of probation. The full story, including additional comments from Mr. Stoker, can be read on the daily times website.

Arlon Stoker Files a Lawsuit Against an Unlawful traffic Stop

Arlon Stoker Files a Lawsuit Against an Unlawful traffic Stop

la-na-nn-police-abuse-new-mexico-20121129-001Arlon Stoker is actively defending New Mexico Citizens from forms of police misconduct. A recent article written by the Los Angeles Times goes into detail about one of the cases that Arlon Stoker is currently working on that involves the unlawful stop of 67 year old William Mike.

Mike was stopped as a suspect in a car thievery even though his car is different color, model and year than the car stolen. He was then at gunpoint, arrested with his wife and three grandchildren. You can read the entire article at The Los Angeles Times Website.

Arlon L. Stoker | Stoker Law Firm | Attorney at Law |Criminal Defense | Civil Rights | Personal Injury

2713 E. 20th Street | Farmington, NM 87401
505.326.0404 | Fax: 505.326.3636
monica@stokerlaw.net  | www.stokerlaw.net