Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Fabian Gonzales is out of jail.
His release Tuesday afternoon comes nearly two weeks after a judge made the controversial decision to deny the state’s request to keep Gonzales behind bars as his case makes its way through the justice system. Prior to the judge’s ruling, Gonzales had been in the county jail since August 2016 on a $1 million cash-only bond.
Gonzales is accused of helping his cousin dismember the body of 10-year-old Victoria Martens after she was reportedly killed by an unidentified man who was looking for Gonzales. Shortly after his arrest, Gonzales had been accused of drugging, raping and killing Victoria, but the state later revised its theory of the case, and as a result dropped rape and murder charges against Gonzales.
In his order, Judge Charles Brown wrote that the serious nature of the allegations in the case “are not to be disregarded or minimized.”
“However, since the state’s initial filing in this case, the theory regarding what occurred has evolved significantly, including the extent and role of defendant’s involvement,” he wrote.
The decisions sparked social media fury and a protest in front of the courthouse calling for Brown’s removal from the bench. Some attendees worried that Gonzales might hurt children, while others wondered whether Gonzales himself might become a target.
Meanwhile, the District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday filed a 40-page appeal, saying Brown’s decision “reflects a misunderstanding of the law” and “erroneously minimizes the charges against defendant.” They are asking the Court of Appeals to reverse the ruling.
Stephen Aarons, Gonzales’ attorney, said in an email that his client was ready for trial more than a year ago when the prosecution filed an appeal that has put the case on hold indefinitely.
“Now they appeal again,” he wrote. “They are violating Fabian’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.”
Brown said in court that Gonzales would be released to the court’s pretrial services division, which was tasked with finding an appropriate place for him to live. It was not immediately clear Tuesday where Gonzales would live as he continues to await trial on one count of child abuse resulting in death and multiple counts of tampering with evidence.
Brown noted that Gonzales has never been convicted of a felony and has only limited misdemeanor convictions, and although he has a history of failing to comply with court conditions, Brown found that did “not demonstrate his dangerousness to the community.”
In their appeal, prosecutors outlined seven factors that they believe show Gonzales “poses a clear threat to the safety of the community.” They also say Brown found Gonzales was not a threat because his record consists only of misdemeanor convictions and because his most egregious charges had been dismissed. That decision, they argue, effectively creates a rule requiring prior felony convictions or murder or rape charges in order to classify a defendant as a danger.