Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
A woman who is accused of allowing her young son to be molested by other adults wants to get out of jail, saying she has medical conditions that make her vulnerable to COVID-19.
But the Attorney General’s Office says the woman has a history of making up or exaggerating illnesses to try to avoid her responsibilities.
Teri Sanchez, 39, faces charges including criminal sexual contact of a minor, felony child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She and her husband, James Stewart, are accused of allowing their 8-year-old son to be molested by two men. They are both facing additional criminal charges in separate cases.
Both are being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center on pretrial detention holds. On Wednesday an Albuquerque state district court judge will decide whether Sanchez should be released from the jail.
Sanchez’s attorney, Liane Kerr, said in a motion filed in March that Sanchez’s developmental disabilities make her vulnerable to COVID-19. She is asking that Sanchez be allowed to live in a group home while her case is pending.
“There is no public safety rationale for continuing to detain Defendant on the instant charges in the wake of a public health emergency,” Kerr wrote. “Defendant’s continued detention increases the likelihood of exposure and spread of COVID-19 to Defendant as well as other detainees, jail personnel, and members of the public outside of the jail.”
The Attorney General’s Office said in its response that Sanchez hasn’t shown how her medical conditions make her vulnerable to COVID-19. Prosecutor Brittany DuChaussee also said an employee at the daughter’s school told investigators that Sanchez faked having a stroke to get out of a parent-teacher conference.
“In particular, without documentation of specific ailments which make the Defendant more vulnerable to COVID-19, the Court should note the Defendant’s long history of making up and exaggerating her illnesses to get out of trouble,” DuChaussee wrote.
DuChaussee also said that Sanchez didn’t make MDC’s list of nonviolent offenders who may be released because they are vulnerable to COVID-19.
“This Court should not second guess the release considerations that MDC has already carefully put in place,” DuChaussee wrote.