Lopez free after 11 days in jail

Jimmy Lopez

CONEJOS — Jimmy Lopez of La Jara is a free man today, despite his arrest in October and spending 11 days in jail.

Faced with a weak case, the 12th Judicial District Attorney dropped all charges against him stemming from an incident in July at Capulin.

Lopez, 64, was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree burglary armed with explosives, menacing with a real or simulated weapon, felony menacing, conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit menacing. There were also 11 counts of committing a crime of violence with a sentence enhancer and two misdemeanor charges.

He was working in La Jara on Oct. 7 when sheriff’s deputies took him into custody.

“It was a total shock to me, I was confused,” Lopez says. “I wasn’t shown the charges until I was in jail.”

“I wasn’t scared because I knew I didn’t do anything,” Lopez said, “but I didn’t have that comfort level completely.”

Lopez said he was treated very well in the Conejos County Jail, except for a time when his attorney, James E. Marshall IV of Alamosa, wasn’t allowed to meet with him. By law, attorneys must be allowed to speak with their clients.

A delay in setting a bond hearing delayed the matter for a week, and then court procedures added four more days. He had been held without bond pending conference with a judge.

Bond was set at $90,000 and Lopez had to use a bondsman, which cost him $9,000. Although Lopez faced the legal processes involved with felony charges, his case never got to district court. Marshall says he saw a weak case from the beginning.

Lopez has been in the lumber and construction business his entire working life. A lifelong resident of the Capulin area, he graduated from Centauri High School and attended Adams State College before going into the building trades.

He can organize construction of a multi-unit building from the first shovel of dirt to the last nail and is very detail-oriented, so Lopez said knowing he was innocent and facing charges put him through a great deal of stress.

Then came Nov. 22, when DA Crista Newmyer-Olsen, acting by and through Deputy DA Jordan Welch, filed a notion for dismissal or entry of Nolle Prosequi without prejudice, meaning the case would be dismissed. It could be re-filed, should credible information or evidence emerge.

Conejos County Judge Kimberly Cortez signed off on the order Nov. 25.

Marshall said the weakness of the case against Lopez emerged during a two-day preliminary hearing of William Trujillo, 34, who faced felony charges relating to a July 15 incident in which Roy Sisneros, 43, and Veronica Archuleta, 25, were shot at the 8000 block of Highway 50 at Capulin. Both were hospitalized but survived.

During Trujillo’s preliminary hearing, testimony from multiple parties, including the investigating officer and alleged victims, gave the prosecution reason to believe that, without additional investigation and information, there would be no reasonable likelihood of conviction if the matter would proceed to trial.

The case stemmed from information provided to law enforcement by other person or persons connected with the shootings of Sisneros and Archuleta.

Declining to say why someone would provide that information, “I just want my name cleared,” Lopez declares.

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