ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Opening statements were held this morning in the trial of the woman accused of killing a mother and daughter in a stolen van. Elexus Groves, who was only 21 at the time, faces two murder charges in the deadly crash.
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Police say Groves and Paul Garcia were fleeing from police in a stolen van back in January 2017, when Groves, who was driving, crashed into another car on Copper and Chelwood Park, between Juan Tabo and Tramway. Shaunna Arredondo-Boling and her 14-year-old daughter Shaylee Boling, who were in that other car, were killed. Arredondo-Boling’s 3-year-old son, who was restrained in the back seat of the driver’s side, survived the crash.
During opening statements, the prosecution told the jury Groves was going nearly 80 miles an hour on the city street with no regard for others. Defense lawyers admitted Groves caused the crash but says she did not have murderous intent and attempted to brake before the collision.
“Five seconds before impact, the van was going 78 miles an hour, 100-percent throttle, meaning Ms. Groves has the gas pedal 100-percent down, all the way down” said David Waymire, a prosecutor on behalf of the State of New Mexico. “Both Elexus Groves and Paul Garcia jump out of the van, and run off on foot, leaving the scene immediately, not caring who’s injured.”
“Elexus Groves did commit some very serious crimes. reckless vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, theft of a car, but Elexus Groves is not a murderer and the state will not be able to prove that,” said Maxwell Pines, a defense attorney for Groves, who went on to say a person can be at fault, but that doesn’t mean it’s intentional. “Elexus Groves did not have murderous intent. She did not have that wanton indifference for human life. She confessed and she wrote a letter of apology. This crash affected her deeply.”
Groves faces two charges of first-degree murder of depraved mind, a charge that means any person of sound mind would know their action is greatly dangerous to others and could result in someone being killed. Grove’s passenger, Garcia, testified today against Groves as part of a plea deal. He is the first witness and took the stand Thursday morning, describing what led up to the crash and the aftermath.
“By the time I turned around, the car was dead center right in the middle of us. I only had enough time to hold onto the bar right beside the door and just hold my breath and it was at that point that we hit the car,” said Garcia. “I took my seatbelt off and stumbled out of the vehicle and it was at that point that I just started running from the wreck.”
While on the stand, Garcia told the jury he and Groves were high on meth at the time of the crash and that it was Groves’ first time injecting it, saying she had a heightened reaction. He says after the crash as they ran through a nearby neighborhood, they eventually stole a truck, stayed on the run a bit longer, and then went their separate ways.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Groves faces a possible life sentence. As part of his plea deal, Garcia would face around six years if he testifies truthfully.
During Thursday’s testimony, the jury also heard from the man whose work van was stolen, a man almost hit by the van before the crash, and the officer who pursued the van and was first to arrive at the crash scene. Witness testimony resumes Friday morning.