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DA dismisses murder case against towing company employee

Orlando Astorga, 44 (MDC)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The District Attorney’s Office has dismissed the case of a towing company driver charged with shooting and killing a man who reportedly stole a shovel from the business’s North Valley property Monday night.

“After an initial review by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors have referred this case back to (the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office) for further investigation,” Michael Patrick, the DA’s spokesman, wrote in an email.

The case against 44-year-old Orlando Astorga was dismissed without prejudice Wednesday, meaning it can be refiled. His attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Patrick would not say what aspects of the case needed additional investigation and referred additional questions to the sheriff’s office.

Deputy Johann Jareno, a BCSO spokesman, acknowledged the case’s dismissal in a news release.

“Detectives are continuing their investigation of the events from July 8, 2019, which led to the tragic loss of human life,” he wrote. “We look forward to working with our local criminal justice partners to ensure those responsible for committing crimes in Bernalillo County be held accountable for their actions.”

Astorga had been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Jasen Mulvaney. According to a criminal complaint, Mulvaney’s girlfriend called 911 to say the couple had stolen a shovel from a property under construction on Jacs and El Pueblo NE, east of Edith. She said an employee of the business, later identified as Astorga, blocked the driveway and then fired at them as Mulvaney tried to drive away.

Mulvaney was able to drive about two miles to Alameda, where his girlfriend called for help.

Astorga later told deputies Mulvaney had swerved toward him and he heard a loud boom that he believed was gunfire. He also said he believed Mulvaney was reversing his Ford Expedition in his direction.

“Astorga later revealed he was not sure the Expedition had actually moved in reverse but the image of the white taillights and the revving of the engine led him to believe he was in danger, causing him to fire the one round at the vehicle,” the detective wrote in the complaint.

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