Alleged slaying by released inmate prompts lawsuit - Albuquerque Journal

Alleged slaying by released inmate prompts lawsuit

Devin Munford was on pretrial release – and wearing a GPS ankle monitor – when police say he fatally shot a “friend” in Northeast Albuquerque in 2021.

Now, the victim’s mother has filed a lawsuit alleging court personnel failed to properly supervise her son’s killer.

Munford, 21, is charged with first-degree murder and other charges in the April 2021 shooting death of 22-year-old Devon Heyborne. Munford is scheduled for trial in October.

Munford was released from the Metropolitan Detention Center about four months before Heyborne’s killing, court records show.

The conditions of Munford’s release in January 2021 required him to wear a GPS ankle monitor and placed “geographical restrictions” on his movements, according to the lawsuit filed in 2nd Judicial District Court.

Prosecutors allege that Munford obtained a shotgun and killed Heyborne.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Heyborne’s mother, Angelica Alire, claims staff responsible for monitoring Munford’s whereabouts failed to report violations of court-ordered restrictions on his movements.

Court personnel failed to properly operate the equipment “that monitored Munford’s non-compliance with the home arrest aspect of the pretrial release,” according to the suit. It seeks undisclosed damages.

The suit was filed against the 2nd Judicial District Court, which oversees the pretrial services program.

Pretrial services operates a program known as the “GPS ankle bracelet monitoring,” which uses a global positioning system to monitor the whereabouts of certain criminal defendants while they await trial. The program is intended to help the court supervise defendants a judge finds to be dangerous when they are released from jail.

Tom Thorpe, a spokesman for 2nd Judicial District Court, said Friday the court cannot comment on pending litigation.

The New Mexico Supreme Court this week appointed 13th Judicial District Judge Cindy Mercer of Peralta to preside over the case. All judges in the 2nd Judicial District Court have recused themselves from the case.

The suit also identifies Bernalillo County and the Metropolitan Detention Center as defendants.

The court’s pretrial services monitors the GPS equipment from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, according to the suit.

On weekends and holidays, MDC’s community custody program monitors the GPS equipment, the suit said.

Bernalillo County spokewoman Tia Bland said Friday the county will review the lawsuit “and address it accordingly.”

Munford’s attorney, Camille Cordova, did not immediately respond Friday to the Journal’s request for comment.

Munford’s history

Munford was arrested Dec. 23, 2020, on charges of shooting from a motor vehicle, distribution of a controlled substance and receiving stolen property. No trial has been scheduled in that case.

In Jan. 4, 2021, a district court judge denied a motion from prosecutors asking that Munford remain in custody while awaiting trial on those charges, court records show.

Munford was placed under the supervision of the court’s pre-trial services program and required to wear a GPS ankle monitor, according to the order signed by District Judge Clara Moran.

Munford “may only leave his residence for work, education, medical appointments, or other necessary appointments” as determined by the court’s pretrial services program, the order said.

The order also prohibited Munford from possessing a firearm.

Heyborne was killed on April 23, 2021. He was struck twice by shotgun shells after he answered the door of his apartment in the 800 block of Locust Place NE, Albuquerque police wrote in a criminal complaint.

Munford allegedly met Heyborne while the two were in jail together at MDC.

The 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office Criminal Strategies Unit identified Munford through a Snapchat video posted 30 minutes after the killing that shows him rapping and showing off a shotgun.

GPS data placed Munford near Heyborne’s apartment at the time of the killing, the complaint said.

Munford was charged May 17, 2021, with first-degree murder and conspiracy in Heyborne’s killing, according to his indictment. He was also charged with aggravated assault for allegedly firing a shot at an elderly woman in the parking lot before driving away.

Munford also faces a charge of armed robbery and other charges for allegedly holding up a 7-Eleven store on Kathryn SE two days after Heyborne’s killing.

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