NM Supreme Court upholds 2021 release of alleged serial burglar - Albuquerque Journal

NM Supreme Court upholds 2021 release of alleged serial burglar

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

District court judges acted properly when they ordered the release of a burglary suspect while awaiting trial, the New Mexico Supreme Court found in an opinion issued Thursday.

The state’s highest court issued the opinion in the case of a 20-year-old man at the center of a yearslong legal battle over pretrial detention.

Jesse Mascareno-Haidle (MDC)

Jesse Mascareno-Haidle faces multiple counts of residential burglary, unlawful taking of a vehicle and other crimes.

He has remained in the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center since October 2021. No trials have been scheduled in those cases.

The 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office twice tried to detain Mascareno-Haidle in February 2021 after his arrest for two residential burglaries.

But two district court judges rejected both attempts to detain him. District Attorney Raúl Torrez’s office appealed those rulings.

The Supreme Court on Thursday found that prosecutors “failed to make any argument to the district court judge that no release conditions could be imposed that would reasonably protect the safety of any other person or the community,” Justice Michael E. Vigil wrote in the unanimous opinion.

Reaction came swiftly Thursday from those on both sides of the issue.

“Today’s ruling only confirms what has already been clear to the public for some time – New Mexico’s broken revolving-door system must be addressed by the Legislature,” said Lauren Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.

“While we respect the Court’s interpretation of the current law, we do not believe that New Mexico voters intended for defendants like Mascareno-Haidle to be released when they approved bail reform in 2016,” Rodriguez said.

Mascareno-Haidle’s attorney, Noah Gelb, cheered the ruling.

“The opinion makes clear that when the state seeks to strip away someone’s liberty before trial and conviction, it must actually produce some evidence,” Gelb said. “An unsupported allegation isn’t enough.”

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 reforming the state’s bail-bond system allowed prosecutors to seek to detain someone charged with a felony if they prove both that the person is dangerous and that no conditions of release can protect the public.

Mascareno-Haidle initially was charged with a pair of home burglaries in October and November 2020. But prosecutors argued that he had confessed to participating in more than 26 other late-night burglaries when people were asleep in their homes.

After his release, Mascareno-Haidle again was arrested in October 2021 after students at Rio Grande High School told an officer that someone was breaking into cars in the parking lot.

He is charged with burglary of a vehicle, resisting or evading an officer and attempting to commit a felony in that case.

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