Medrano, 53, faces 21 counts of criminal sexual penetration – in addition to assault, false imprisonment and extortion charges – for crimes in 2013 and 2014 in three separate cases, with three different women as alleged victims.
In one case in which Medrano was not charged until two years after the alleged crime, a woman says she was drugged, held against her will and repeatedly raped after meeting Medrano in Santa Fe, where court papers say he lived when he was arrested.
A plea deal is on the table as Medrano is scheduled to appear Monday in Las Vegas District Court. All of his alleged crimes took place in San Miguel County.
Las Vegas, N.M, District Attorney Richard Flores said Medrano likely targeted homeless women with substance abuse issues, held them captive and raped them. “He had a plan to lure these ladies off the street,” Flores said in an interview.
“There definitely is evidence that he was holding them against their will. He would threaten them, and they were not able to leave at their own will.”
Medrano was arrested in Santa Fe on Sept. 15, 2014, on an arrest warrant for rape, assault, false imprisonment and extortion. He was transported to the San Miguel County jail the next day and since has been held at the jail longer than any other inmate in the lock-up, according to jail logs.
The arrest came about a year after his name showed up in a bizarre police report, on a separate case, that didn’t get much attention at the time, despite a woman’s horrific description of what she said had happened to her. She said she had been drugged, woke up in the middle of sexual assaults and had been chased by someone with a chainsaw over several days in October 2013.
The State Police told the Journal at the time that the agency wasn’t pursuing this case for lack of evidence.
That case started when Rock Ulibarri of Las Vegas, since elected to the San Miguel County Commission, pulled over on the side of Interstate 25 near Las Vegas to assist a woman who was waving him down.
The woman jumped into his truck bed, yelling for him to call police and saying that someone was after her, according a police report obtained by the Journal.
Ulibarri said in a recent interview that a man later identified as Medrano and an alleged accomplice had found her after she’d gotten away from them and tried to re-capture her on the I-25 frontage road, but she had managed to escape once again and flag Ulibarri down.
“When I found her, they were apparently right behind her,” Ulibarri said.
San Miguel County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Clayton told the Journal on Thursday that Medrano did have an accomplice, but that the second man is now deceased and prosecutors don’t know what his precise relationship was with Medrano.
One officer wrote in a report from the 2013 incident that the woman who Ulibarri helped had cotton mouth, appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and did not appear to have visible injuries.
The woman, 47 at the time, told police that five days before she was found on the interstate, she was at a parking lot somewhere in Santa Fe and said her “friend,” someone named Lloyd or Floyd, as well as Medrano met her there in a gold Ford Explorer. She said she ended up at Medrano’s house, which she believed was in Pecos, where they started drinking and smoking marijuana.
She said that she could remember being raped at least three times and that she would wake up with Medrano on top of her and having sex with her.
The officer taking her statement wrote that the woman was hard to understand because she was distressed, talking very fast and was not making much sense. The woman said someone had chased her with a chainsaw, but she could not provide a description of where she was held, and that she believed marijuana she was given had been laced with another drug because it made her feel ill.
After Ulibarri picked her up and called police, she was taken to Alta Vista Regional Hospital in Las Vegas, where she told an emergency room doctor that she had been raped. She was then transported to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center to be treated by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and undergo a psychological evaluation.
An officer wrote then that woman continued to talk rapidly and was difficult to understand, and said she continued to get confused about the events she was reporting.
‘Nothing’ as evidence
A State Police spokesman told the Journal in 2013, for a news story on the woman’s account, that the agency wasn’t going to pursue the case because it “got nothing” in regards to evidence.
Ulibarri said he stayed with the woman the entire time State Police interviewed her the day she was found and he said the officers were generally dismissive of her story.
“I personally think the two officers were just dismissing her claims,” Ulibarri said. “They weren’t taking her seriously.”
State Police Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo said Thursday that the agency takes all crimes seriously, but that investigations take time due to the process detectives have to follow and said witnesses may sometimes give inconsistent statements. “If we charge someone too soon, the individual can get off scot free,” Armijo said. “We have to make sure we have an accurate and complete case.”
The woman picked up by Ulibarri is now specifically named as a victim of Medrano in charges filed on Oct. 21, 2015 – almost exactly two years after she’d been interviewed by police – by Deputy District Attorney Kit Ayala of Las Vegas. The document says that Medrano assaulted or struck her with the intent to kill or rape her on Oct. 19, 2013, five days before she was found on I-25.
The same document charges Medrano with nine other counts – eight first-degree rape charges and one count of false imprisonment – for offenses that took place over that five-day period. The address listed for Medrano on his charging papers is on Rancho Siringo Road in Santa Fe, but prosecutor Clayton said Medrano may also have owned land and a trailer home in San Miguel County near Ilfeld.
Medrano does not appear to have a serious criminal record pre-dating his rape charges, with only traffic offenses and a minor marijuana charge in online court records. It’s unclear what led police to eventually go after Medrano for the 2013 case and subsequent assaults he is now charged for dating from 2014.
Details of other cases unavailable
The Journal has made public records requests, but has been unable to obtain State Police reports related to the two other cases against Medrano. The Las Vegas DA’s office filed charges against Medrano in the two other cases in 2014, soon after his arrest in September of that year:
- A criminal information from the District Attorney’s Office, this one dated Oct. 2, 2014, alleges that Medrano raped a woman on Aug. 6 of that year, and charges him with committing assault, false imprisonment and extortion on the same day.
- On Dec. 3, 2014, he was charged with 12 counts of rape of a third victim. The criminal information alleges he sexually assaulted the woman in San Miguel County “on or between” Aug. 30 and Sept. 15, 2014 – the same day he was arrested in Santa Fe County.
District Attorney Flores said it was hard to bring charges against Medrano, because the victims weren’t easy to locate. He said investigators found two of them, but another has not been found, and he said he wants to make sure she agrees with a proposed plea deal. “One moved to Oregon and nobody ever told us,” Flores said. “I want to make sure that we reach out to her. The other two victims have had good communication. They’ve been very involved, and they both agree with the plea deal.”
Court proceedings also stalled when Medrano’s attorney, Tomas Benavidez, filed a motion for a competency evaluation, putting the case on hold for about five months. Medrano was ruled competent in August to stand trial.
“When (competency) is raised, it just creates a huge time delay within the system because there are not enough evaluators,” Flores said. “… I think it’s fair to say that he knew what he was doing.”