I served as deputy district attorney in Sandoval County from 1993 until 1997, and again from 2001 to 2003. I led the prosecution team for the District Attorney’s Office along with Assistant District Attorney Gloria Lucero in State vs. Michael Brown, Bernadette Setser and Jeremy Rose.
On Feb. 4, 1994, Ed and Marie Brown, both 80 years old, were found dead in their Rio Rancho home, having lain in their own blood for at least 12 hours, the result of many stab wounds and thrusts to their bodies, especially to Ed Brown — who had what OMI determined to be 58 separate penetrations as he was lying in his bed. The effects of this nightmare on the Rio Rancho community was one of unspeakable horror.
While the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety quickly apprehended the three teenage suspects within a few hours of discovering the grisly crime scene, the motive for such a ghastly slaying was not immediately clear, and in fact still bewilders most, if not all, of the investigators, probation officers, and attorneys who formed part of the investigation, prosecution and defense of the three assailants. The judicial trials of Bernadette Setser, Jeremy Rose and Michael Brown, the couple’s grandson, were held in Las Cruces some 11 months later, in January 1995, after the District Attorney’s Office and their lawyers formally agreed to a change of venue.
Without question, all three defendants were represented by able and competent counsel. The guilty verdicts that resulted were appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which affirmed the convictions handed down by the Doña Ana County juries and after the defendants were sentenced a few months later by a Sandoval County District Court judge.
It is interesting none of the journalists, attorneys, legislators and legal and other “specialists” who have banded together to promote and cheerlead the “Second Chance Law,” Senate Bill 42, were present for the investigation and prosecutions of any of these defendants subsequent to Ed and Marie’s untimely deaths. However, kudos to those who were present at the numerous stages of these cases and fulfilling their roles under the criminal justice system.
In the final analysis, we should never forget the real victims of this horrible event. This does not include the three defendants who, on that fateful day, made their own adult-like decisions and chose their own destinies. The real victims in this case were, and are, Ed and Marie Brown. The lasting and detrimental effects of infamy connected with this heinous and brutal crime on the Brown, Setser and Rose families; their friends; as well as our community at large can and must never be forgotten.
To Ed and Marie, know that we will always cherish your memories and perpetually honor your good names.