Double murder suspect in MDC, where father is supervisor

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There are questions over an Albuquerque man accused of murdering his girlfriend and her mom and his stay inside the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center. 

A judge is expected to decide Tuesday if Jesus Cartagena Jr. will stay behind bars as he awaits trial for the murder of 19-year old Shanta Hanish and her mother, 58-year old Laura Hanish. 

As Cartagena Jr. stays in MDC, his father, Jesus Cartagena Sr. remains an employee in the facility. According to online county employee records, Cartagena Sr. is employed as a sergeant at MDC. It’s unclear how long he has worked for the facility, or exactly what his job responsibilities are. 

A recent job posting for a sergeant position at MDC indicates the person in the role is a supervisor of both staff and inmates. In part, the job posting says a sergeant is expected to, “supervise, schedule and monitor the work activities of assigned section or unit; resolve informal personnel matters and recommend personnel and disciplinary actions to command officers.” 

Another job responsibility details the sergeants are responsible for “Supervising, monitoring, and conducting inmate-housing checks and cell searches for inmate counts and detection of contraband.” 

KRQE News 13 requested an on-camera interview with MDC officials about the situation Monday to discuss what MDC is doing to ensure there’s no conflict of interest in Cartagena Sr. working in and around the same facility his son is locked up. 

KRQE News 13 also sought to discuss how often a situation like this may occur. MDC would only provide the following statement: 

“In all cases involving a high-profile case and inmate, the Metropolitan Detention Center takes the alleged circumstances surrounding the crime and the inmate into consideration when determining where to place the individual within the facility. Along with those considerations, the inmate will undergo MDC’s standardized classification process. Our classification staff determines where to place the inmate based on the safety and security of both the inmates and staff.” 

Candace Hopkins, Spokeswoman for Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center.

Cartagena Jr. is currently being held in the psychiatric unit. He’ll face Judge Alissa Hart at a hearing Tuesday morning to determine if he’ll be held in jail while he awaits trial.  

A “public safety assessment,” which the judge will consider, recommends releasing Cartagena Jr. because he doesn’t have a criminal history or a record of failing to appear for court hearings.

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