Convicted, confessed NM killer seeks to withdraw his plea - Albuquerque Journal

Convicted, confessed NM killer seeks to withdraw his plea

Clifton Bloomfield. handout photo
Clifton Bloomfield. SOURCE: NMAG’s Office

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque serial killer Clifton Bloomfield’s yearslong attempt to withdraw his guilty plea has resurfaced.

Bloomfield, who confessed to killing a prominent Korean couple and three other people from 2005 to 2008, is serving a 195-year prison sentence.

He argues in his petition that he was not appointed an attorney qualified to handle death penalty cases, and that the court accepted his plea even though he entered the agreement involuntarily. He also alleges that the state didn’t comply with the terms of his agreement, and that his defense attorney was ineffective.

In 2008, Bloomfield pleaded guilty to killing Tak and Pung Yi, retired teacher Josephine Selvage, interior designer Carlos Esquibel and newlywed nurse Scott Pierce.

Police called him one of Albuquerque’s most notorious killers and said investigators believed four of the five murders were committed during robberies or “property crimes gone bad.”

Bloomfield pleaded guilty to all five murders in exchange for being imprisoned out of state and having the death penalty off the table.

On Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office argued before District Judge Benjamin Chavez that Bloomfield’s petition to withdraw the plea should be dismissed without an evidentiary hearing because Bloomfield’s claims are refuted by the record, including the transcripts of the plea and sentencing hearings. AG’s Office spokesman James Hallinan said Chavez has not made a ruling as to whether a hearing is necessary.

Bloomfield’s attorney Robert Tangora could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. Bloomfield, 47, waived his appearance and did not attend the hearing.

After Bloomfield’s plea deal in 2008, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said: “I feel I made a deal with the devil, but it was a necessary deal. It was necessary to bring the families closure, and it was a deal done with the concurrence and the support of all of the families.”

Soon after his plea, Bloomfield said he wanted to withdraw it. He then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in 2011. And he argues in an amended petition filed in October 2015 that his plea was “forced upon him.” He said he never had a chance to read the final agreement before signing it “due to alleged safety concerns.”

According to a response to the petition filed by the AG’s Office, when Bloomfield took his plea agreement the judge asked whether he believed it was the best thing for him to do.

“Yes, sir, I do,” he replied. Later, he said he was “very satisfied” with the advice he received from his defense attorney Liane Kerr.

The AG’s Office response also argues that Bloomfield wasn’t entitled to a death-penalty qualified attorney, because prosecutors never sought the death penalty. The AG’s Office also wrote that Bloomfield said multiple times during his plea hearing that he was entering the agreement “of his own free will.”

Bloomfield also points out that he was sentenced to nine years for an aggravated burglary count that was supposed to be dismissed under the agreement. The AG’s Office notes that the discrepancy was not mentioned at sentencing, but that the issue seemed to be the result of oversight or typographical error.

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