Sheriff’s trial ends in failure ”Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE, NM – A trial set aside has been declared in the trial of Rio County Sheriff Arriba James Lujan because the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
Lujan was facing charges of bribing a witness and harboring or assisting a criminal for allegedly helping former Spain city councilor Phillip Chacon escape police in March 2017.
The jury began its deliberations around 3 p.m. Thursday, but at around 2:30 p.m. Friday, Judicial District First Judge Kathleen McGarry declared the trial set aside.
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Defense attorney Jason Bowles said the jury was divided 8-4, with the majority finding Lujan innocent on both counts.
“I think the jury had serious reservations and doubts about the prosecution case,” he said. “We hope the prosecutor will come back and decide not to try again. “
He said Lujan was extremely happy with the results and that if the state reconsidered the case, he believed Lujan would win because the charges are not “valid”.
Bowles said taxpayer resources were going into this case and he didn’t think there was any reason to try the case again.
Andrea Rowley Reeb, the Clovis area prosecutor acting as special prosecutor in the case, did not immediately respond to the Journal’s phone calls on Friday.
The first judicial district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, declined to comment, anticipating the case would be retried.
“I understand there will be a new trial, and as such, it is not appropriate to comment at this time,” she said in a written statement.
Lujan has another trial coming up next month in a case also involving Chacon. In this case, he faces three counts of resistance, obstruction or escape from an officer following an incident in March 2020.
As Spain’s police attempted to execute a search warrant at Chacon’s home following a stabbing at his property, the sheriff showed up at the scene, allegedly drunk, and attempted to retake places. The charges were filed after Lujan refused to comply with a search warrant and allow investigators access to his cell phone.
This trial is scheduled to begin on July 26.