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Trial starts for suspect accused of kidnapping, rape

Redwolf Pope, right, talks with one of his attorneys during a break in his trial on rape charges Tuesday in 1st District Court in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – An attorney for a man accused of kidnapping, drugging and raping a woman and capturing it on video at a Santa Fe hotel says police didn’t do their due diligence in investigating the case.

During opening arguments of the trial of Redwolf Pope in a 1st Judicial District courtroom Tuesday, defense attorney Brad Kerwin began his opening arguments by drawing attention to Santa Fe police’s handling of the investigation.

“You’re going to find out Santa Fe’s finest – we all know (they’ve) got a tough job – but in this case didn’t do their homework,” Kerwin said. “They didn’t put in the legwork to interview the folks and to uncover the evidence that would show that Redwolf is not guilty of this.”

Prosecuting attorney Jennifer Padgett Macias drew attention to Pope’s role in the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was proposed to go through Native American land, during her opening remarks. She said Pope used his renown to gain the trust of a woman who came to Santa Fe during Indian Market in 2017.

Pope, 44, is charged with first-degree kidnapping, criminal sexual penetration in the third degree and voyeurism. He is accused of bringing a woman to a hotel in Santa Fe by using a date-rape drug to render her unconscious before raping her. Pope is also accused of videotaping the incident, as well as several other rapes, using video cameras he had in his apartments in Seattle and Santa Fe.

Pope was charged with the crimes in September 2018 and pleaded not guilty. Pope is also facing two rape charges in Seattle.

Witness Erica Ciganek testified that she took a video of Pope’s iPad, which prosecutors say has images of Pope raping unconscious women. She emailed the video to police, but police never asked to examine her phone, according to testimony.

Kerwin pressed Ciganek on why she took the video in the first place instead of just trusting police with the iPad. She said she was afraid of police mishandling the iPad and wanted to make sure they had the evidence needed for a warrant.

Ciganek was living in Pope’s Seattle apartment when she first noticed a camera that according to previous reporting was in the apartment’s bathroom. She became concerned and traveled to Santa Fe from Seattle with another witness, Lehi Sanchez, who also testified.

Ciganek and Sanchez were formerly involved in business with Pope at the now-closed ZoHi Gallery in Santa Fe.

Padgett Macias said the alleged rape victim was at a party where Pope showed up and offered to drive her to her hotel. The woman remembered taking a drink from a spiked Arnold Palmer, Padgett Macias said, and then nothing else.

The woman woke up to find herself in bed with Pope, in a hotel room where she wasn’t staying, Padgett Macias said. Pope told her the two had shared an intimate night together. The woman tried to believe him, but she always had an uneasy feeling about that night.

Later, photos would emerge of Pope allegedly raping the woman while she was unconscious in the hotel room, according to testimony.

The trial is scheduled for four days with closing arguments Friday.

In a matter related to the trial, the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office was sanctioned $1,000 on Monday by Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, who is presiding over the case.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis said that the state accidentally included plea negotiation emails in one of their responses to a defendant’s motion to dismiss. Plea negotiations are privileged information and aren’t for public disclosure. The defense’s motion to dismiss was ultimately denied by the judge.

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