Judge chastises DA’s office, agrees to rehear DWI case

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

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – “Troubling” and “unacceptable.”

That’s how state District Judge James Sanchez of Valencia County described prosecutors’ excuse for not showing up to trial in a DWI case on Thursday.

In late June, Sanchez overturned a DWI conviction for Christina Montoya, 40, after prosecutors from the Valencia County District Attorney’s Office failed to appear for trial. The case, by then, was on appeal.

The judge said his office placed notice of the trial date in the DA’s mailbox, located in the clerk’s office.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Martinez claimed he didn’t get notice of the court date. He filed a motion on July 10, 2014 asking the judge to reconsider his decision.

On Thursday, Judge Sanchez reluctantly granted the state’s motion but made it clear he didn’t buy prosecutors’ excuse.

“I’ve set 220 criminal matters since I’ve taken over this docket on April 28,” Sanchez said. “For 219 out of the 220 times, I’ve had an (assistant district attorney) show up. You are the only one to claim you didn’t get proper notice, and that troubles me.”

A new appeal trial date will be set for early August. The judge also said all correspondence from his office will be handled through email.

Montoya was convicted of DWI in a Belen magistrate court last December. The conviction came after a February 2013 rollover crash on Interstate 25 near Los Lunas. According to a police report, Montoya failed field sobriety tests and did not blow hard enough to register on a breath-alcohol testing machine. Montoya claimed she had a medical episode.

Montoya is also charged with vehicular homicide by DWI in a separate crash. Just two weeks before rolling her car, Montoya was driving to El Paso with her 19-year-old niece, Starr, when her car skidded down an embankment off I-25 near Truth or Consequences. Starr died instantly.

That trial for that case is scheduled to begin in mid-August.

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