SANTA FE — The Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office on Monday decided to drop a murder charge in the case of a woman whose bloody body was found Saturday morning at a Motel 6, the Santa Fe Police Department announced in a news release.
But the DA’s office said it’s dropping the case because a police detective raised concerns about a lack of medical evidence for a murder count.
Two witnesses told police they saw 34-year-old Jose Calabaza severely beat his girlfriend, 24-year-old Miranda Tenorio, breaking her nose and causing facial bleeding, at the motel on Friday night, according to police charging documents from over the weekend.
The SFPD’s Monday statement said that after an autopsy performed by the state Office of the Medical Examiner on Sunday, Tenorio’s cause of death “remains undetermined at this time pending” additional examinations by the OMI.
James Hallinan, spokesman for the DA’s office, later issued a statement that said an SFPD detective had “relayed her concerns for the lack of corroborating medical evidence” to the DA’s office “and recommended murder charges were not supported.” Hallinan said the Santa Fe police told the DA’s office that preliminary medical findings were that there were “no apparent signs of trauma.”
An order will be filed to dismiss the case but charges may be refiled “if SFPD believes there is sufficient evidence to charge in the future,” Hallinan said.
Calabaza had been charged with an open count of murder and was booked into the Santa Fe County jail Saturday.
According to a statement of probable cause for Calabaza’s arrest, he called 911 around 8 a.m. Saturday and said Tenorio was bleeding and possibly unconscious, but that she was still alive. An officer arrived at the Motel 6 on Cerillos near Siler and saw that Tenorio was deceased on a bed. Medics examined her and found that she had a broken nose and other face trauma. Contrary to Calabaza’s report, the medics said she had been dead for more than an hour.
Calabaza told police that he and Tenorio did get into a fight the night before, but he repeatedly asserted that he didn’t know how Tenorio got her fatal injuries.
Two other people, Jonathan Peralta and Candice Ray, were in the room Friday night and told officers that they witnessed Calabaza beating Tenorio in the face and pulling her hair.
Still, Peralta stayed in the room with Calabaza and Tenorio for the night.
Calabaza initially told officers that he had returned from work Saturday morning and found Tenorio covered in blood.
After officers pointed out inconsistencies in his story, Calabaza gave a different account. He said he, Tenorio, Peralta and Ray had been in the room Friday night watching movies. He said he fell asleep next to Tenorio, and when he woke up he saw her covered in blood.
Police later found Peralta and Ray at a nearby homeless shelter.
“He (Peralta) stated he witnessed Mr. Calabaza hit Ms. Tenorio ‘all over’ the prior night,” the document says. “He stated Mr. Calabaza hits Ms. Tenorio a lot. Mr. Peralta stated he saw blood coming from Ms. Tenorio’s face.”
Ray said she saw Calabaza break Tenorio’s nose and tried to get Calabaza to stop. Ray “stated he hit her (Tenorio) ‘all night’ and pulled her hair and told her she was ‘worthless’ and ‘no good,'” the document says. “Ms. Ray said she told him to stop but he did not listen to her.” The police document says Tenorio had hair pulled out of her head when she was found.
Calabaza was interviewed again and he then admitted that he and Tenorio fought and that Tenorio fell and “hit her face on the heater in the room,” the charging document says. After the fight, Calabaza said, he and Tenorio laid on the bed together and that Tenorio was not bleeding then.
The Santa Fe Police Department says that Calabaza told officers Tenorio was pregnant, but an autopsy needs to confirm that.