Judge: Man accused of brutally attacking teen to be released

Justin Hansen
Justin Hansen

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A judge denied the State’s motion Tuesday to keep Justin Hansen behind bars until trial. This comes a week after police arrested him in a 2008 cold case for almost beating a 17-year-old Cibola High School student to death with a shovel.

Despite the recent charges against him, the judge pointed to a lack of criminal history and said Hansen’s not a danger to the community.

After nine years, police arrested Hansen on new DNA evidence, which they say links him to the beating that almost killed Brittani Marcell.

He’s accused of attacking Marcell with a shovel in her northwest Albuquerque home when she stopped there to meet her mom for lunch. When her mom got home, the suspect fled.

“That bad of an attack on my life… if my mom hadn’t come home that day, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” Marcell said.

Marcell was in a coma, waking up two weeks later with no memory of her attacker — not until last year when she remembered Hansen’s name. She told police she knew him from her job at the Cottonwood Mall.

Marcell and her family sat in court Tuesday for a hearing on the State’s request to keep Hansen behind bars with no bond.

“My question is why. Why did he do it? That’s what I want to ask him. Will I ever get a true answer? Probably not,” Marcell said.

Tuesday, Hansen’s attorney tried to suppress DNA evidence, saying it was an unlawful search and seizure because police didn’t get it through a search warrant. Instead, they followed him and got his DNA from a McDonald’s cup he threw out.

The judge heard testimony from the detective on the case and Hansen’s ex-wife before making the ruling.

“He’s probably the best father I’ve ever known,” Alyssa Hansen said.

Alyssa and Justin have three young children together.

“He cares more for those kids than himself. He did everything he could for them day and night,” she said.

Prosecutors pointed to complaints of a mutual battery between Hansen and a pregnant girlfriend in 2004 and rape of an ex-girlfriend in 2007. However, the defense argued Hansen was the only one with extensive injuries from the battery, and the woman who reported the rape eventually took it back and didn’t prosecute.

With no felony convictions and no arrests in the nine years since the shovel attack, a judge decided to allow Hansen’s release.

“This is a horrible case I freely admit that, but that’s not why we’re here. The law presumes that until a person is convicted, they don’t belong in jail,” Judge Charles W. Brown said.

The judge said Hansen would be released with a GPS monitor and would be required to report to Pre-Trial Services.

He is also supposed to be supervised at all times by someone the court designates, like a family member for example.

However, those restrictions didn’t do much to ease concerns of the Marcell family. They say they were disappointed in the judge’s decision.

Marcell and her mother said they moved out of state after the attack, fearing the suspect would strike again.

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