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Judge rejects Gallegos’ motions to suppress

Posted: Friday, Feb 8th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — When Anthony Gallegos goes on trial for attempted second-degree murder and other alleged offenses, jurors may have a chance to review his initial statements to police and family members.

Twelfth Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift has denied the defendant’s motions to suppress the statements he made in the hours after an alleged July 22, 2012 altercation with two other men.

The incident sent one man to the hospital with a stab wound to his heart; the second man arrived at the facility with four stab wounds to his left side.

Gallegos himself was taken to the emergency room for treatment of stab wounds to his spinal area and his left shoulder.

Prosecutors went on to charge the 21-year-old man with criminal attempt to commit murder in the second degree, two counts of first-degree assault and one count each of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

The resulting case is currently set to go to trial on Feb. 26, and in the weeks leading up to that date, the court is continuing to review various motions from the defense. Other matters have been put to rest, though.

Deputy Public Defenders Christopher Light and Amanda Hopkins had sought to quash the statements that Gallegos gave at the scene of the incident, and from his hospital bed.

Among other things, the defense argued that he was too intoxicated to understand a verbal reading of his Miranda rights, since he reportedly drank alcohol and smoked marijuana before he was arrested.

According to court testimony on Jan. 25, a test revealed that Gallegos’ blood alcohol content at the time stood at 0.033. In comparison, Colorado state law declares that a person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle is impaired if he or she has a blood alcohol level that exceeds 0.05.

A police officer testified under oath last month that Gallegos nodded his head and verbally agreed to waive his Miranda rights. But Light told the court that police did not provide Gallegos with a written copy of those rights. (Under the law, they were not required to do so.)

Hopkins also questioned whether the suspect could have understood the rights that were read aloud to him, based on an officer’s in-court recitation. She claimed the officer was “very quiet,” and stumbled and mumbled his way through the reading.

Ultimately, though, Judge Swift found that Gallegos was not intoxicated, and ruled the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his rights.

The judge also rejected the defense’s allegations that police used coercive tactics to obtain additional statements from Gallegos.

The defense claimed that Gallegos was in a fragile physical and mental state when he spoke to police from his hospital bed.

Hopkins told the court last month that police limited his contact with his friends and family members throughout his brief stay in the hospital. Light, meanwhile, alleged that police only allowed Gallegos’ mother to see her son after she agreed to “get him to tell the truth.”

But Judge Swift determined that Gallegos’ statements to family members were private, and he did not make them in an attempt to help law enforcement.

Other statements that Gallegos gave at the scene of the alleged altercation were volunteered to police, she ruled.

Gallegos first spoke to authorities about two and a half hours after the incident reportedly occurred.

By that time, police were already in the midst of their initial investigation.

According to court records, they learned that Samuel Montoya, Jeremy Montoya and Michael Sanchez were driving westbound in the 800 block of 10th Street when the rear window of their car shattered.

Samuel Montoya stated he heard the glass shatter, and then noticed that a man standing in the middle of the street had just thrown a beer bottle at them.

When Jeremy Montoya stopped the car and got out to see what was going on, a man identified as Gallegos allegedly ran toward him and stabbed him near his left rib cage. (A physician who subsequently examined him found that the knife punctured Jeremy Montoya’s heart.)

Moments into the struggle, Sanchez ran to the injured man’s aid and tried to wrestle the knife away from the assailant. At that point, authorities reported that Gallegos stabbed Sanchez four times.

Gallegos allegedly ran away from the scene, but he later returned and surrendered to authorities.

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