Taos compound defendants hearings pushed back one week

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The preliminary and detention hearings for five people connected to a Taos compound where a dead child was found was continued for one week.

Attorneys for the group requested the delay, saying after the hearing that they needed more time to prepare for the proceedings.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Lucas Morton, 40, Jany Leveille, 35, Hujrah Wahhaj, 37, and Subhanah Wahhaj, 35, have been charged in federal court with federal gun charges. The criminal complaints against them accuse Leveille, a native of Haiti, of being in the country illegally and the others of conspiring to get her a firearm.

The group will remain in federal custody until the hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 12.

“The is an unusual case,” said Amy Sirignano, Morton’s attorney.

Sirignano and Carey Bhalla, Hujrah Wahhaj’s attorney, said they had never encountered or defended a client who had faced similar charges.

The group was arrested last month on suspicion of child abuse charges after Taos County sheriff’s deputies raided a compound where the group was living and found 11 malnourished children a dead 3-year-old boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj.

The FBI arrested the group on suspicion of the federal firearms charges after state charges were dismissed. Prosecutors in Taos didn’t hold the preliminary hearing within the proper deadline, though authorities said they plan to present the case to a grand jury later this month.

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