Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — For the second time in a month, a district court judge has continued the jury trial of a man accused of attempted second-degree murder and other crimes.
Anthony Gallegos was originally scheduled to go on trial in late February. But Twelfth Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift postponed the date when she learned that the attending physician who treated the alleged victims in the case would be temporarily unavailable to testify.
The defense subsequently moved to dismiss the entire case against the 21-year-old man, arguing that the prosecution acted in bad faith or was grossly negligent.
It also urged the court to lower Gallegos’ bail amount to one dollar, cash only.
“He does not make this request as a joke, but because the court cannot grant Mr. Gallegos a personal recognizance bond without the prosecution’s consent, which it previously refused to give,” the defense’s motion says.
Judge Swift rejected both motions to dismiss. She did, however, approve the defense’s request to continue the trial; the court is scheduled to set up a new date on April 1.
Gallegos, who was arrested last July, previously invoked his right to a speedy trial. Prosecutors, in contrast, sought a three-month delay of the proceedings in order to line up their witnesses, and to collect evidence that remains in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI’s) custody.
But Deputy Public Defenders Amanda Hopkins and Christopher Light now say that their client had no choice but to ask for a delay, barring an outright dismissal of the case against him.
Among other things, they claim that the district attorney’s office purposefully disregarded the court’s orders and failed to provide the defense with discovery materials, including evidence that the CBI is processing.
That evidence, including the knife that Gallegos allegedly used last July to stab victims Jeremy Montoya and Michael Sanchez, has been in the bureau’s custody since Sept. 20, 2012.
Then again, so has a lot of other evidence.
It’s a well-known fact that the bureau has a huge backload of casework to catch up on. By some estimates, it can take the CBI’s analysts up to 18 months to process the evidence from a case.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy told the court last month that the bureau’s staff apparently didn’t know when the Gallegos case was heading to trial. But he could not say why someone waited until the third week in February to ask the bureau about the status of its work on the case.
“I don’t have a good answer for the court,” he said Feb. 19.
In the meantime, the Alamosa Police Department sent the bureau a “rush request,” asking it to process the evidence as soon as possible.
According to case files, the bureau planned to begin its work on March 1. But it estimated that the job would not be finished for another six to eight weeks — well after the second trial date of March 26 was scheduled to begin.
The defense went on to claim that the prosecution’s failure to provide it with discovery materials in a timely manner put Gallegos in an awkward position.
“By forcing Mr. Gallegos to request a continuation in exclusion of his constitutional rights, the prosecution is rewarded for causing this situation instead of sanctioned for its behavior,” the defense said in its latest motions to dismiss. “The prosecution will get precisely what it was seeking and was denied it (in February).”
Gallegos previously pleaded not guilty to 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.
He stands accused of stabbing two men during a July 22, 2012 altercation in the 800 block of 10th Street.
During their initial investigation of the incident, police learned that Samuel Montoya, Jeremy Montoya and Michael Sanchez were driving westbound down the street when the rear window of their car shattered.
Samuel Montoya stated that 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.
Moments into the alleged 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.
Emergency responders who arrived at the scene transported Jeremy Montoya to the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center for medical treatment of a puncture wound to his heart.
According to court records, emergency room staffers had to crack open his chest in an attempt to surgically repair the organ. But ultimately, crews had to air-flight Montoya out of the Valley for additional treatment of life-threatening injuries.
Sanchez arrived at the facility for treatment of four stab wounds to his left side, while Gallegos ended up in the emergency room for treatment of stab wounds to his spinal area and his left shoulder.
Based on its review of medical records, the defense raised serious doubt about the “mechanism of injury” and the nature of the injuries that the alleged victims claim they received from Gallegos.
In contrast, the defense previously suggested that Gallegos sustained severe injuries during the altercation.
But according to Loy, the defendant’s superficial wounds were not life threatening. One of the wounds measured one centimeter, while the other was about three centimeters in size, he said last month.