DWI conviction overturned because prosecutors fail to appear

Christina Montoya
Christina Montoya was charged with vehicular homicide after she was in a crash that killed her niece in 2013.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Christina Montoya, who is charged with vehicular homicide by DWI in the February 2013 crash that killed her niece, has caught a big break heading into next month’s trial – courtesy of the state.

Montoya, 40, was convicted last December of drunk driving in a separate rollover crash, but in June, Montoya won her appeal after Valencia County District Court Judge James Sanchez dismissed the case because prosecutors failed to show up to the trial.

On Feb. 16, 2013, Isleta Police arrested Montoya on I-25 near Los Lunas for aggravated DWI after she rolled her car. Belen Magistrate Judge Phillip Romero convicted Montoya of DWI, which she quickly appealed.

Two weeks before that crash, Montoya and her 19-year-old niece, Starr Olsen, were on their way to El Paso, Texas, from Albuquerque, when Montoya’s car veered off on I-25 about 20 miles south of Truth or Consequences. Olsen was killed instantly.

Montoya was flown to University Medical Center in El Paso after complaining of back pain. Once inside the helicopter, emergency personnel smelled alcohol on Montoya, but it was too late to conduct field sobriety tests, according to New Mexico State Police Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez.

According to an affidavit, Montoya waived her rights to release her medical records, which showed Montoya had a blood alcohol content of 0.14 hours after the crash. In March, more than a year after the crash, state police charged Montoya with the girl’s death.

Starr’s mother, Antoinette Sena, was gearing up for the August trial when she learned a judge overturned Montoya’s DWI conviction from the February 16, 2013 crash.

“It’s just been devastating since hearing the news,” said Sena. “There’s so many lives being lost, and everyone should be doing their part to make sure these cases are prosecuted.”

Valencia County District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said his office never received notice of the June 18 appeal trial. Judge Sanchez’s office disagreed, saying it gave the district attorney a week’s notice. Martinez has since filed a motion to reconsider the case. Judge Sanchez is expected to hear the motion on Thursday, July 24. Martinez declined to comment on-camera until after the judge makes his decision.

If convicted in the vehicular homicide case, Montoya was facing up to 10 years in prison because she had a DWI conviction on her record. If her appeal stands, the maximum sentence she could face is six years, under New Mexico law.

Sena said the state’s actions are unacceptable.

“I am living with a life sentence everyday, waking up without my daughter,” Sena said. “There’s no excuse for the district attorney and for whoever else to not show for that appeal date. It’s so important.”

Calls and emails to Montoya’s attorney were not returned.

KRQE.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s