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Pregnant suspect remains in jail

Modified: Friday, Feb 15th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — For a pregnant woman, jail can be a stressful place.

But when that woman stands accused of serious crimes, the thought that she might be temporarily released from custody to give birth is also nerve-wracking to her alleged victims.

On Friday, 12th Judicial District Judge Michael Gonzales had to weigh the arguments for and against a recommendation to release a visibly pregnant robbery suspect from the Alamosa County Detention Center.

The judge said he was aware of the somewhat unusual circumstances that 24-year-old Monte Vista resident Christina Jiron faces. But he ultimately ruled against the request, based partly on the fact that Jiron was on parole when she and her boyfriend allegedly robbed two Alamosa women at gunpoint last Halloween.

“The threat and the danger to the public I believe is extremely high,” he said.

If the circumstances change, Judge Gonzales will take another look at the request. But in the meantime, he said he knows that Jiron will remain in a safe and secure environment.

Jiron, who is 35 weeks pregnant, has been in custody on a $100,000 bond since she and co-defendant Linndon Gallegos were arrested last November.

Defense attorney Alex Raines, who filled in for Barbara Zollars, said that Jiron has already gone into premature labor multiple times. On each occasion, the jail had to transport her to the hospital, and each time, Jiron received medication to keep her from prematurely giving birth, he said.

While the number of women behind bars skyrocketed by 843 percent nationally in recent decades, only about six in 100 women in jail are pregnant, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The trends are still new enough that many facilities are grappling with the question of how to care for pregnant detainees or inmates.

In this case, both Raines and the prosecution agreed that the county jail is not equipped or staffed to deal with Jiron’s situation.

Deputy District Attorney Lara Reincke told the court that her office would support Jiron’s temporary release, provided the defendant was subject to an extensive pre-trial tracking program.

Raines also spoke up in support of her conditional release, noting that Jiron has not been convicted of any offenses related to the case.

But the two alleged victims in the case strongly opposed the move, according to a man who spoke on their behalf.

The man told the court that both women grew extremely concerned when they learned Jiron might be released from jail on a temporary basis.

“Basically, it’s like this: They’re terrified,” he said. “They lost it — tears. They were upset; they were crying.”

The man said they had no objections if jail personnel escort Jiron to an out-of-area hospital for medical treatment.

“If she needs to have her child (delivered) in Denver, yes, we understand that,” he said.

But the court should not allow her to remain free afterward, the man said.

Jiron, who has not yet entered a plea, has been charged with two counts of and theft.

Her 21-year-old boyfriend pleaded not guilty on Feb. 11 to identical charges, as well as an additional count of misdemeanor theft.

The charges are based on allegations that an armed man and woman wearing ski masks and gloves forced their way into an Eighth Street residence last Halloween, and ordered the two occupants to the floor.

At that point, police say the pair demanded prescription medications and cash, and later struck one of the two women in the back of her head with a handgun. They also took a cell phone, purse and a laptop computer from the residence.

Both Jiron and Gallegos were later apprehended on Nov. 14 in Del Norte, based on a tip from Crime Stoppers, and with the help of the Monte Vista and Del Norte police departments.

In addition to the aggravated robbery case, the two defendants still have other matters pending in Rio Grande County.

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