SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - The case of Juan Cordova, the man accused of driving drunk and killing a motorcyclist over Memorial Day weekend, has hit a snag because State Police are now investigating the deputies handling the case.
State Police officers, armed with a search warrant, raided and seized all computers and electronic devices in the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, after several questions surfaced about how the fatal crash was investigated.
Cordova, 56, is charged with slamming into a group of motorcyclists while he was drunk near Chimayo in May. Mark Wolfe of Algodones was killed and his wife, Debbie Hill, was seriously injured. Cordova, who is accused of bolting from the scene on foot, claimed he wasn't behind the wheel and that his truck was stolen before the crash.
The truck, which the defense calls the only piece of evidence that could clear Cordova, was recently destroyed. The tow company that had it destroyed said Dep. Paula Archuleta from the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office gave them the okay to do it.
Cordova's attorney Damain Horne said destroying the truck is crippling to his client's case.
"Like losing a gun in a murder case or destroying a gun in a murder case, the defense is deprived of a defense," said Horne.
The sheriff's office denies authorizing anyone to destroy the truck.
The defense has also questioned why investigators waited more than five hours to test Cordova's blood and why that sample was stored in a deputy's refrigerator for days.
There are also questions about the police report typed up on the fatal crash. According to one report, Dep. Archuleta signed off on it but claims she didn't write it.
Speaking through his attorney, Sheriff Tommy Rodella said he's dumbfounded.
"There are electronic fingerprints that (Dep. Aruchuleta) did author that report," said attorney Steve Aarons.
Because of all the confusion, District Judge T. Glenn Ellington ordered state police to get to the bottom of it by seizing all office computers and combing through evidence.
Aarons said the judge and state police have no authority yet to seize their computers because they are still in the preliminary hearing phase. Rodella has filed an order to get the state supreme court involved. Aarons said the case is preventing deputies of getting important work done.
"(Deputies) have the duty to protect the public," said Aarons. "Those computers and electronic data help them do so. Broad sweeping searches aren't going to help anyone find the facts."
The defense said the sheriff's office's slipups are big distractions.
"Clearly without the truck and several other issues, my client is being deprived of due process," said Horne.
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