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The state Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court decision allowing the pretrial release of Jesse Mascareno-Haidle, 19, who police and prosecutors say is a suspect in 80 home burglaries.
Chief Justice Michael Vigil announced the decision after an hour-long hearing on an appeal filed by District Attorney Raúl Torrez.
Vigil said from the bench the justices found that the state had failed to argue or prove that there were no conditions of release that could protect the community.
Vigil did say prosecutors were able to show, during the detention hearing in front of District Judge Courtney Weaks earlier this year, that Mascareno-Haidle posed a threat to the community.
Vigil said the court would issue a written opinion at a later date to formally explain the reason for its decision.
Torrez, in a press release about another case, said that in light of today’s decision in the Mascareno-Haidle case the Legislature should take up the issue of pretrial detention to “fix an obviously broken system that continues to place the community at unnecessary risk.”
Mascareno-Haidle’s attorney, Noah Gelb of the Public Defender’s Office, said, “This case shows that judges can make decisions that protect the community and safeguard individual liberty.”
He noted that his client has not gone to trial yet and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The appeal asked the Supreme Court to overturn Weaks’ ruling, which released Mascareno-Haidle under the conditions that he wear a GPS monitor, abide by a curfew, stay in contact with the court prerelease program and his attorneys, and live at home.
The District Attorney’s office sought his detention arguing that Mascareno-Haidle confessed to an Albuquerque Police Department detective that he was involved in 28 night-time home burglaries, and police found evidence linked to several burglaries while serving a search warrant on his home.
Police and prosecutors said he was suspected of being involved in 80 night-time home burglaries of expensive homes that backed up on open spaces like golf courses.
Weaks ruled that Mascareno-Haidle presented a danger to the community but prosecutors failed to prove that there were no conditions of release that could protect the community.
Chief Deputy District Attorney James Grayson told the justices that Weaks should have applied her finding that Mascareno-Haidle was dangerous to her analysis that he could be released under conditions set by the court.
Justice Shannon Bacon said during Friday’s hearing that prosecutors did not make that argument to Weaks, citing a transcript of the detention hearing.
Bacon said the court record was “devoid” of the District Attorney’s office making that argument during the court hearing.
Gelb told the justice that Weaks took into consideration that Mascareno-Haidle had no prior criminal history, no history of failing to appear in court, and a Public Safety Assessment that recommended he be released on his own recognizance in deciding that conditions of release could protect the public.
Under the Constitutional Amendment passed in 2016 revising the use of monetary bail, judges can hold criminal defendants prior to trial if they find the defendant poses a danger to the community and that there are no conditions of release that would protect the community.
2 cases combined
Mascareno-Haidle has pleaded not guilty to two separate criminal complaints arising from residential burglaries and other crimes.
He was arrested in December on one criminal complaint and released on conditions set by the court.
In January he was arrested on the second criminal complaint for another residential night-time burglary that occurred in 2020. The cases have since been combined.
It was the second arrest that led to the detention hearing in front of Weaks when prosecutors presented evidence of his confession and items found during a search of his home that were taken in other burglaries.
His defense attorney said that they are looking into how Mascareno-Haidle’s confession was obtained.