UPDATED: Ex-Valencia Co. deputy acquitted of assault, battery

LOS LUNAS — A former Valencia County sheriff’s deputy was found not guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery charges last week after a day and a half trial.

Emily Montoya was charged with beating up the wife and daughter of a man who once ran for county sheriff.

Montoya was accused of beating up Rhea Chavez and her daughter, Zoi, during a March 2011 scuffle at the home of the parents of Ron Chavez, who ran for sheriff in 2010. The jury took less than two hours to come back with their verdict.

“The jury did their job,” said Kari Morrissey, Montoya’s attorney. “The jury understood that there wasn’t anything to this. This was a case that shouldn’t have been brought (to court) and shouldn’t have been pursued the last two years.”

Montoya, who was alleged to have had an affair with Ron Chavez, was at the home of his parents the day of the altercation and worked as their caretaker.

Morrissey convinced jurors Montoya acted in self-defense during the altercation. She said a PVC pipe, which was less than four-foot long and one-inch around, couldn’t have been a deadly weapon as the prosecution claimed.

“(The state prosecutor) wants you to determine that a piece of plastic is a deadly weapon,” Morrissey said. “As a matter of justice, tell him no. It’s ridiculous.”

Morrissey painted Montoya as the victim and said she was the first to call for help.

The defense attorney questioned the testimony of Rhea and Zoi Chavez and said the two “barged into the house” the day of the incident. She said Rhea was upset because she thought Montoya was having an affair with her husband.

During her testimony, Rhea Chavez said she “couldn’t recall” whether she was angry at Montoya the day of the altercation. That testimony contradicts a police report that said Rhea told deputies she suspected Montoya of having the affair.

“Rhea lied to you about her demeanor (that day),” Morrissey told jurors. “… You don’t recall whether or not you suspected this woman of sleeping with your husband?”

Morrissey claimed deputies with the Valencia County Sheriff’s Department didn’t do their job by not taking a written statement from Montoya, and she wasn’t charged until days after the incident.

According to a police report, Rhea Chavez and her daughter got into an physical altercation with Montoya shortly after arriving at the residence.

According to the police report, Montoya produced a PVC pipe and threatened Rhea and Zoi with it. When deputies arrived, they found the mother and daughter with visible signs of scratches and bruising on their legs, back, neck, arms and face. Both were transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital for their injuries, the report said.

The mother and daughter apparently went to the home to help the couple with some computer problems.

Montoya testified the fight started after Zoi Chavez hit her with a Windex bottle.

“When you get smacked in the face with a Windex bottle, you get to defend yourself,” Morrissey said.

Prosecutor Bryan McKay said Montoya got “madder and madder” because the family members of Ron Chavez wouldn’t leave. He said testimony by Montoya that she calmly picked up the PVC pipe and placed it in the bathroom was false.

“The defense was by the Chavezes,” McKay said.

But Morrissey claimed the family of Ron Chavez were the aggressors. The attorney said Montoya is glad the matter is resolved.

“We are relieved it’s over,” Morrisey said.

6:05am 4/26/11 — Ex-Valencia Co. Deputy Accused of Attacking Women

Journal Staff Report

Former Valencia County sheriff’s Deputy Emily Montoya, 49, has been charged in Belen Magistrate Court with assaulting the wife and daughter of Ron Chavez, an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff, the Valencia County News-Bulletin reported.

Montoya is facing two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of interference with communications in connection with the alleged assault on Rhea Chavez, 54, and Zoi Chavez, 18, on March 24, the News-Bulletin said.

According to a sheriff’s office report, Rhea and Zoi Chavez had gone to the home of Ron Chavez’s parents to help them with some computer problems they were having, but were met at the door by Montoya, who had had an affair with Ron Chavez, Rhea Chavez told deputies.

Montoya told deputies she had been hired by Ron Chavez to care for his parents, and according to the report when Rhea Chavez told her to leave, Montoya refused and an argument ensued, the News-Bulletin said.

Although Montoya said she had been attacked by the two women, she showed no visible injuries except for a small scratch on her forehead, but the two Chavez women displayed visible signs of scratches and bruises on their legs, backs, necks, arms and faces when deputies arrived at the Rio Communities home, according to the report.

The Chavezes were taken to University of New Mexico Hospital for treatment of their injuries, and Montoya also was taken to the hospital complaining of back and neck injuries, the News-Bulletin said.

Montoya who had been indicted previously on a misdemeanor charge of impersonating an officer (see below) while allegedly trying to coerce a previous caregiver for Ron Chavez’s parents to admit she had stolen from the parents had those charges dismissed when the District Attorney’s Office said it would not prosecute the misdemeanor charge, the paper reported.

A grand jury declined to indict Montoya on charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion in that case, the News-Bulletin said.

In the current case, Montoya was released on her own recognizance and has asked State District Judge William Sanchez for a restraining order against the Chavez women, saying she is not the primary aggressor in their conflict, the newspaper said.

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12:50pm 3/15/11 — Former Valencia Co. Deputy Charged With Impersonating Officer: Ex-officer allegedly misrepresented role when she accused female caregiver of stealing cash, other items.

Emily Montoya, a former Valencia County sheriff’s deputy, has been indicted by a grand jury on a misdemeanor charge of impersonating a peace officer while allegedly trying to coerce a female caregiver into admitting she had stolen money from Montoya and others, the Valencia County News-Bulletin reported.

The grand jury returned a true bill on the impersonating an officer charge but declined to indict Montoya on the more serious charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion, the News-Bulletin said.

According to a sheriff’s office report, Montoya and Ron Chavez, a former special deputy and unsuccessful candidate for Valencia County sheriff, picked up Jamie Cuevas on Jan. 19 as she walked down a Los Lunas street, the paper reported.

Cuevas, who was employed to care for Ron Chavez’s parents, was accused by Montoya of stealing her jacket which contained $100 in cash, and was taken to the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office where Ron Chavez told a detective that Cuevas would confess to stealing from Chavez’s father, according to the News-Bulletin.

The sheriff’s report said that Montoya, 41, had told Cuevas she was a sheriff’s deputy, but Ron Chavez told the woman he was a former deputy, the News-Bulletin said.

Cuevas allegedly admitted to Detective John Carter that she had taken $155, three rings, three jewels and other items as well as Montoya’s jacket with the $100 while she was caring for Chavez’s father between Jan. 3 and Jan. 15, according to the police report.

The report said Cuevas returned some of the property to Carter on Jan. 21 but claimed Montoya had threatened her with physical harm if she did not confess and to have her locked up, the News-Bulletin said.

Cuevas pleaded not guilty at an arraignment last week to four charges of larceny in connection with the case, the paper reported.

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