AZTEC — A Shiprock man with 14 prior DWI convictions is going to be held without bond pending trial on a second-degree felony DWI charge.
District Chief Judge Karen Townsend ordered Levi Manuelito, 57, to be held at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center during a hearing this afternoon in Aztec District Court.
Manuelito was arrested on Dec. 22 and charged with driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs (eighth or subsequent offense), according to the criminal complaint.
The New Mexico State Police stated in a press release Manuelito had 14 prior DWI convictions and the Dec. 22 charge was his 15th DWI charge.
Manuelito also has a pending case in district court where he is also accused of a second-degree felony DWI count after being arrested on May 13 by Farmington police, according to court documents.
Prosecutor Benjamin Ward of the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office argued Manuelito cannot stop drinking and driving, adding there are no conditions of release to protect the public from him.
He listed eight DWI convictions for Manuelito in New Mexico, stating his first DWI conviction was in 1993.
Mary Weber, Manuelito’s public defender, argued Manuelito did not need to be held on a no-bond hold because he has no violent convictions.
She added her client did not injure anyone or cause a vehicle accident during the two pending DWI cases.
Use of an ankle monitor for Manuelito was recommended by Weber as part of his conditions of release.
For the Dec. 22 charge, New Mexico State Police officers found Manuelito in a vehicle at a Hogback gas station. That vehicle matched the description of a vehicle reported swerving on U.S. Highway 64.
The vehicle was reportedly driving in the eastbound lane of U.S. Highway 64 from Shiprock.
Officers observed Manuelito had watery and bloodshot eyes along with slurred speech. He is accused of refusing breathalyzer and sobriety tests.
Manuelito’s preliminary hearing on the Dec. 22 case is set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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