ALAMOSA — A defendant accused of leaving his passenger to die after a January 16th car accident told District Judge Michael Gonzales on Friday he was not happy with his attorney from the public defender’s office and was trying to get someone else to represent him before his trial this fall.
“I am not going to appoint another attorney,” Judge Gonzales told Angel Nieto, 31, charged with vehicular homicide in the death of Marcie Quintana, 24. “You don’t pick and choose who you get to represent you.”
“I don’t think I am getting the help I need,” Nieto told the judge.
Judge Gonzales said he had no indication that the public defender’s office had not been providing adequate counsel for Nieto. Nieto qualified for the public defender while in custody but has bonded out since his last court hearing in July. He now has to re-apply for the public defender and has not yet done so, Public Defender James Valenti told the judge on Friday. Valenti added that Nieto told him he did not want to reapply for the public defender and no longer wanted Valenti’s services.
Gonzales reminded Nieto that he has trials coming up the end of October and middle of November, and the judge asked Nieto how he planned to prepare for those now.
“I am working on getting an attorney right now,” Nieto said. He indicated he had some potential attorneys in mind.
Nieto has pleaded not guilty in the vehicular homicide case.
Judge Gonzales encouraged Nieto to reapply for the public defender or acquire another attorney quickly, given the serious charges he faces and the trials coming up soon. The judge told Nieto he could be looking at a long prison sentence if convicted, so he probably should not be trying to represent himself but should seek legal counsel.
“This is a serious case. It’s going to go forward,” Gonzales said. “You need to think seriously about what you are doing, because this isn’t a way to delay the inevitable.”
Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig said if Nieto was going to be out on bond, he believed the court should order pre-trial tracking given the nature of the cases against Nieto, who has multiple cases in Alamosa and Rio Grande County. The judge said the DA’s office could file a motion to the effect.
Judge Gonzales scheduled the next status in Nieto’s case for September 21, and Nieto said he would probably go reapply for legal counsel.