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Judge agrees to reset hearing for Santa Fe protester

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The case against a Santa Fe man involved in a demonstration that saw the city’s historic obelisk torn down in October is back on.

Magistrate Donita Sena, who dismissed the case last month because a Santa Fe police officer failed to show up for a motions hearing, agreed to reschedule that hearing after learning the court failed to give the officer proper notice of the hearing.

Sean Sunderland, 24, is charged with criminal trespass and resisting an officer, and is one of six people charged for their alleged part in the Indigenous Peoples Day demonstration on Oct. 12. The new date of the hearing is Jan. 25.

In a news release Friday, Santa Fe police say it first learned that the charges against Sunderland had been dismissed from an Albuquerque Journal article published earlier this week.

“Upon learning of the dismissal and the reason for the dismissal, we immediately initiated our internal inquiry to determine why the officer in question did not attend the Motions Hearing,” the release states. “It is established protocol for the Courts, as well as Attorneys, to send any notices, subpoenas and discovery requests directly to the Santa Fe Police Department via a standalone email dedicated solely for the receipt and service of Court and Attorney documents, at which point it is the responsibility of SFPD to complete the service to the officer and verify that the service had been conducted.”

But that protocol apparently wasn’t followed and, understanding that officer Jesse Campbell never received notice of the Dec. 28 hearing, Judge Sena agreed to reset the hearing.

The hearing concerns a motion to exclude witness testimony filed by Sunderland’s defense attorney, Kitren Fischer. The motion came after Santa Fe police failed to file a witness list by the court’s scheduling order deadline. If granted, the motion would effectively prevent them from calling unnamed witnesses at trial.

Sunderland was among the first two people charged in the incident. He and Dylan Wrobel, also of Santa Fe, were apprehended by police before demonstrators took over the scene and toppled the 152-year-old monument using ropes and chains.

Four other people have been charged, each of them for criminal damage to property, unlawful assembly, criminal trespass and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.