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New Chaves County grand jury indicts seven people

March 1, 2016 • Local News

From Top Left, left to right: Finney, Buckner, Chavez, Rue

From Bottom Left, left to right: Gonzales,  Lay, Martinez 

Five men and two women had [auth] the dubious distinction last week of becoming the first people to be indicted by a newly impaneled grand jury in Chaves County.
The 12-person grand jury on Thursday returned criminal indictments against the seven people, all in connection to alleged drug offenses, announced Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce.
• Vernie M. Buckner, 49, was indicted on a fourth-degree felony charge of possession of a controlled substance. The indictment alleges she possessed methamphetamine in Chaves County on or about Jan. 25.
The indictment was based on the grand jury testimony Thursday of Roswell Police Department officer Michael Fry, according to the indictment.
• Sam John Chavez, 28, was indicted on two felony charges and two misdemeanors. Chavez was charged with fourth-degree felony possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree felony possession of a firearm by a felon.
Prosecutors allege Chavez possessed methamphetamine and a firearm in Chaves County on or about Feb. 11.
Chavez was also indicted on misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and concealing identity. Police said Chavez possessed a clear glass smoking device and concealed his true name with the intent to obstruct police.
The indictments were based on the grand jury testimony of RPD officer Kurtis Mowbray, according to the indictment.
• Shannon A. Finney, 45, was indicted on a fourth-degree felony charge of possession of a controlled substance and a petty misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.
Prosecutors allege Finney possessed methamphetamine and marijuana in Chaves County on or about Jan. 20.
The indictments were based on the grand jury testimony of RPD officer Bart Devos, according to the indictment.
• Gilbert Gonzales, 22, was indicted on a fourth-degree felony charge of possession of a controlled substance and four misdemeanor charges.
Prosecutors allege Gonzales possessed methamphetamine in Chaves County on or about Feb. 9.
Gonzales was also indicted on misdemeanor charges of resisting police by refusal to stop, failure to have operating tail lamps, failure to have evidence of vehicle registration and having no proof of vehicle insurance.
The indictments were based on the grand jury testimony of RPD officer Tan Nguyen, according to the indictment.
• Jason Gene Lay, 34, was indicted on a second-degree felony charge of drug trafficking and a fourth-degree felony charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Prosecutors allege Lay possessed methamphetamine in Chaves County on or about Feb. 11 with the intent to traffic the drug.
The indictments were based on the grand jury testimony of officer Devos, according to the indictment.
• Eduardo Martinez, 38, was indicted on a third-degree felony charge of abuse of a child, a fourth-degree felony charge of possession of a controlled substance, and four misdemeanors.
Prosecutors allege Martinez was in possession of methamphetamine in Chaves County on or about Feb. 7 and that he placed a child in a situation that endangered the child’s life or health.
Martinez was also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, aggravated driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, driving at night without lighted lamps and having an open container in his vehicle, all on or about Feb. 7.
The indictments were based on the grand jury testimony of RPD officer Blaine Lattin, according to the indictment.
• Steven Rue, 30, was indicted on a fourth-degree felony charge of possession of a controlled substance and two misdemeanors.
Prosecutors allege Rue possessed methamphetamine in Chaves County on or about Feb. 11.
Rue was also indicted on misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The indictments were based on the grand jury testimony of officer Fry, according to the indictment.
The grand jury requested by local residents convened Thursday at the Chaves County Courthouse for its initial proceedings to consider criminal cases in Chaves County. Luce has the discretion to present felony cases to the grand jury to determine probable cause, compel the production of documents and hear testimony.
A court order signed by several district court judges directs the grand jury to convene every Thursday, beginning with jury selection on Feb. 18, for a term of up to three months.
Unlike criminal preliminary hearings, New Mexico grand juries comprised of 12 people need only eight votes to level a criminal indictment. Also unlike criminal preliminary hearings, the public may not witness grand jury proceedings, jurors may ask questions of witnesses and hearsay testimony is allowed.
The targets of grand jury investigations are sent notices in advance of the proceedings, but cannot be compelled to testify before a grand jury. The targets have the right to appear before grand juries and give statements, but they may not attend proceedings when witnesses testify.
Defense attorneys cannot cross-examine witnesses at a grand jury presentation or call witnesses.
Senior Writer Jeff Tucker may be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at reporter01@rdrnews.com.

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