Students To Go In Diversion Program
A group of Santa Fe Preparatory School students who were accused in May of exploding dry-ice bombs around town will not face criminal charges provided that they successfully complete a preprosecution diversion program.
The Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office also announced Thursday that its investigation and review of the incident does not support a charge of arson that had initially been filed against one of the teens.
The four young men who were arrested in May — Samuel Blake, Benjamin Fletcher, Zachary Olinger and Joaquin Lacy — “must take responsibility for their actions and must make restitution” as a condition of acceptance into the preprosecution diversion program, according to the DA’s office.
“The diversion program is for first-time offenders who are at little risk of reoffending,” according to a news release from the DA’s office.
All four of the young men were charged with possession of an explosive device — a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months incarceration and a $5,000 fine — on May 2.
The young men were arrested after police responded to a report of shots fired on Calle Cacique. A vehicle found near where the young men were standing contained a “red gas can, several bottles with dry ice inside of them, and a white cloth and a gray cell phone,” court records state.
One of the young men later admitted to constructing dry-ice bombs with his friends as part of a “senior prank.”
An arson charge was initially filed against Blake in connection with a minivan fire that was reported on Cerrillos Road on the same night that the four were arrested.
A security guard who saw the minivan before it was set on fire later identified Blake as the person he saw getting out of the vehicle.
However, attorneys for the teens have said that there was no evidence that any of the boys lit the minivan on fire, and that the security guard was mistaken in his identification of Blake.
Blake’s attorney, Dan Cron, was critical of the investigation of the incident and the media attention given to the young men’s arrests.
“I think that the publicity was a gross overreaction to the situation,” Cron said. “It would have been appropriate for there to have been more investigation before an arson charge would have been brought to begin with.”
“There was no evidence that these boys had anything to do with the fire in that van,” Cron added.
Cron said that the dry-ice devices the young men were accused of setting off did no damage to any property. The dry-ice devices also are not bombs, Cron asserted.
Another of the young men arrested in connection with the incident, Fletcher, was not allowed to run in the New Mexico Track and Field Championships in May as a result of his arrest.
Fletcher’s attorney, Todd Wertheim, said Thursday that Fletcher is “an excellent young man.”
“I think that the District Attorney’s Office took a careful look at the evidence and came to the same conclusion as all of us and that is that the incident did not warrant criminal charges,” Wertheim said.