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Appeal denied in 2008 shovel-beating case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Court of Appeals on Wednesday said it would not consider whether multiple charges against Justin Hansen should be dismissed because the statute of limitations passed before he was indicted by name.

Hansen is accused of brutally beating then-Cibola High School student Brittani Marcell with a shovel at her West Side home in 2008. The attack left Marcell blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, and largely unable to remember the beating or the assailant.

Investigators recovered male DNA from blood found on a broken window at the home and, in 2010, prosecutors filed an indictment against that DNA profile.

Last year, when investigators said they determined the profile matched Hansen's, the now 34-year-old was indicted by name.

Prosecutors have held that indicting the DNA profile paused the statute of limitations for crimes in the case. But Hansen's attorney disagreed and said because the statute of limitations had expired for aggravated burglary, aggravated battery and aggravated assault, those counts should be dismissed.

Second Judicial District Judge Cindy Leos denied Hansen's request in February, finding that such indictments are “uniformly accepted” in other jurisdictions across the country. But she said the issue was novel in New Mexico and that a request for an immediate appeal was appropriate.

Wednesday's ruling sends the case back to District Court in Albuquerque, where it is set to begin trial April 30.

Hansen's attorney could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the District Attorney's Office said the prosecutors were “happy that the Court of Appeals ruled promptly to deny the defense request so that trial can proceed.”