Ten months is a long time for a grieving mother to wait for action against the alleged impaired driver who struck and killed her 16-year-old son, Tanner. The youth was riding his motorcycle home on Nov. 22, the morning his grandmother had died.
Compounding the loss of her son and her mother on the same day, Victoria Woolley is understandably upset with a legal system that has yet to indict the driver, Dejohni Orndorff of Belen, or, alternatively, declare there was no criminal conduct.
Initially, Orndorf was charged with homicide by vehicle, aggravated DWI and failure to yield in connection with the crash. She was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center on a $100,000 cash-only bond on those charges, and on a no-bond hold for previous charges – two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, according to a news story by Clara Garcia, editor of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, and also published in the Journal on Monday.
In December, however, the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges in Magistrate Court, saying it would seek a grand jury indictment. Months later, there’s been no indictment. But there have been excuses and finger-pointing.
District Attorney Lemuel Martinez says his office is waiting on an investigative report, based on new information, from the New Mexico State Police. He said he hopes to present the case to a grand jury in the next month, depending on when the State Police finishes.
However, the State Police says the completed report is in the hands of the DA’s Office.
Victoria Woolley says she has received almost no information from Martinez’s office, but Martinez says his office has been in contact with the family.
Somewhere lies the truth, but this much is for sure: this case has languished long enough. DA Martinez needs to get this sorted out – without excuses or further delay – and present this case to a grand jury so all parties can have some faith in the judicial system, which right now is in short supply for a grieving mother.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.