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Jail assailant enters not guilty plea

Posted: Wednesday, Aug 7th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — It looks like the case against an Alamosa County Jail inmate accused of trying to murder a detention center deputy is heading to trial.

An attorney for Ramon Exiquio Diego entered not guilty pleas on Monday to enhanced charges of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, attempted escape and assault during escape.

Twelfth Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift, in turn, scheduled a four-day jury trial to run from Jan. 27-31, 2014.

Prosecutors allege that the 31-year-old Antonito man attacked Jail Deputy Kayla Covington during a failed June 12 attempt to break out of the facility.

Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy told a lower court judge last month that video footage from the detention center clearly shows Diego engaged in an attack on Covington.

The jail deputy, who had been on the job for less than a month at the time of the alleged incident, testified that Diego sneaked up on her while she was receiving property from another inmate’s father.

“He came up behind me, placed a cloth around my neck (and) whispered, ‘tell them to let me go. Tell them to let me go,’” she said on July 19.

Covington said she immediately engaged in a struggle with Diego, and managed to place her hands between her neck and the rolled-up length of cloth that he was gripping.

Two other jail deputies quickly rushed to her aid, and the three of them eventually subdued Diego.

Deputy Public Defender Christopher Light suggested last month that Diego was suffering from the symptoms of drug withdrawal, and simply wanted to get out of jail.

He accused the district attorney’s office of “overcharging to the extreme,” and said prosecutors failed to present any evidence or testimony suggesting that Diego wanted to kill Covington, or that he tried to escape from the facility.

In addition to the main charges against him, Diego stands accused of four sentence-enhancing counts of “violent crime — used deadly weapon.” Prosecutors have also charged him with unrelated counts of forgery and obtaining a controlled substance (oxycodone) by fraud or deceit.

Editor’s note: Due to a typographical error in a press release from the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Valley Courier previously misspelled Diego’s middle name. It is Exiquio — not “Exquio.”

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