ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A bullet casing considered key evidence in the murder of an Albuquerque couple is admissible at trial despite a district judge throwing it out twice, the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled.
John and Bernadette Ohlemacher were shot to death in their northwest Albuquerque home on August 2, 2005. Ronald Santiago, a loan processor who was working with the couple is charged with the murders.
Prosecutors allege he stole from the couple and killed them to cover it up.
During a search of Santiago's home investigators found the bullet casing. Tests showed it was fired from the same gun as the casings found at the murder scene, police said.
The gun was never found making the bullet casings critical to prosecutor's case.
District Court Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch later ruled the bullet casing was inadmissible because officers got a day search warrant but actually searched at night. The New Mexico Supreme Court then overturned his decision.
Later Murdoch agreed with the defense a second time when they argued the search was improper because officers secured the home before they had a warrant in hand. On Thursday the state's high court once again overruled him.
Bernadette Ohlemacher's sister, Antoinette Curran, calls the decision awesome news. She said she woke up Thursday thinking she would mark the seventh anniversary of her sister's murder with no answers.
The Supreme Court ruling came hours later.
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said now they can proceed to trial.
"This is critical to prosecution of case," she said. "We couldn't prosecute this case if this evidence was suppressed."
Santiago's attorney, Joseph Riggs, said he's disappointed but not surprised and preparing for the next step.
"We look forward to a trial," Riggs said. "Our client has lived through this hell for six years, and he is looking forward to being vindicated, and we expect that he will be vindicated.
The Ohlemacher's family, too, is anxious to see this to the end.
"I'm ready for this; I'm ready for peace for my sister," Curran said. "I'm ready for peace for my family."
Any trial won't happen until a new judge is appointed to hear the case. Murdoch retired last year after being accused of raping a prostitute in a case that was handed off to another district attorney who withdrew the charges and has yet to refile them.
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