Here’s the first half of the story:
A man facing a murder charge has been mistakenly released from jail — about a year after he was arrested for allegedly dousing another man with gasoline, throwing him into a Rio Arriba County arroyo and lighting him on fire.
Authorities are now scrambling to find 22-year-old Toby Gonzales. But they’re also trying to figure out how a murder suspect was not only freed Saturday but also apparently was given a 220-mile ride home from Gallup to Española — by jail staff, no less…
Gonzales and co-defendant Rudy Salazar, 32, face murder charges in Steven Duran’s death. The three men were partying together in the foothills between El Guique and El Duende when Duran and Gonzales began yelling at each other. Gonzales and Salazar loaded Duran in the bed of his truck. He was tied up, set on fire and dumped in an arroyo, about a mile outside Ojo Caliente, according to a State Police statement.
Gonzales was being held at the McKinley County jail in Gallup after being transferred from the Rio Arriba County jail Feb. 16. A bench warrant for Gonzales’ arrest filed in state District Court in Santa Fe on Monday states that Gonzales was, “without authorization,” released from the jail in Gallup and driven by jail staff to Española.
Here’s the second half:
Family members of the murder victim said they are the ones who notified authorities he was free after friends spotted the suspect walking around Espanola, New Mexico.
Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office picked up Toby Gonzales, 22, outside of Espanola Tuesday morning…
He was supposed to have a bond-reduction hearing on Feb. 25, but somehow, he was let go. His new bond hearing will take place March 4 in Santa Fe District Court.
If you know anyone in New Mexico – ask them if this sort of incident is a surprise? It may sound like a comic opera; but, this absolutely fits the New Mexico model for policing, jurisprudence and the penal system.
“Oh, well, that happened, again. Shucks.”
UPDATE: Turns out releasing this thug wasn’t an accident. All is explained.
Someone called the jail saying they were from the Sheriff’s office in Rio Arriba county and told the jailers they could release Gonzales. The paperwork was on the way.
So they released him. Duh!