ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New video shows terrifying moments of thieves creeping through a home, as a family sleeps. One of the accused burglars was arrested and District Attorney Raul Torrez said the suspect admitted to more than 20 home burglaries.
However, he’s out free until trial and that has angry homeowners speaking out. They said they’re still traumatized and want the burglar behind bars. But the Public Defender’s Office argues the suspect has been behaving while out and stresses the right of innocent until proven guilty. “We were sleeping upstairs in our bedroom,” said Annie Gomez.
Several homeowners in the metro area share the same frightening story. “They had broken into our house in the middle of the night while we were sleeping,” said Heather Ferguson. “They had walked past my mother’s door.”
This surveillance video is from another homeowner who wants to remain anonymous, showing the burglar making their way through a kitchen window while they slept in January. The same thing happened to Annie and Ron Gomez and it keeps them up at night. “I still get up and check the doors three or four times a night, every night,” said Annie.
The burglars took wallets, grabbed keys, and took off with their cars. It also happened to Ferguson. “We went over to the kitchen and looked out the window I thought: Wasn’t my car parked there last night,” recalled Ferguson. “And then you start piecing everything together with horror.”
“You feel violated,” said Ron. “Your home is your sanctuary and now that’s- it’s been compromised.”
Police believe at least 80 Albuquerque homes were burglarized from July 2020 until January are all connected. Police arrested 18-year-old Jesse Mascareno-Haidle on two burglary charges, but the District Attorney said he confessed to more than 20.
“My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach seeing he’s out while waiting on trial,” said Ferguson. Documents said the courts found him to be dangerous but the state failed to provide clear and convincing evidence no conditions of release will reasonably protect the safety of the community until trial.
“So he was released on zero-tolerance, strict supervision,” said Bennett Baur, the Chief Public Defender at the Law Offices of the Public Defenders. “And it’s been six weeks and he has not violated any of those conditions.” The LOPD said the courts determined there are other ways the community can be kept safe with Mascareno-Haidle not held on pre-trial detention.
“In fact, he’s moving toward the court’s order of education and potential employment,” said Baur. “So really the system is working the way that it should.”
“He confessed to over 20 [burglaries] so I’m curious what the criteria is for a judge to make a decision for who these people are to keep them in jail,” said Ron. The homeowners said they don’t feel safe with the suspect out free.
“Eventually if the court finds he actually did these things and needs to be punished, that will happen,” said Baur. “If he’s found innocent then we haven’t punished an innocent man.”
Torrez has been fighting to keep Mascareno-Haidle behind bars until trial. Torrez is now asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to weigh in and give guidance on what the state is required to show when they ask for pre-trial detention. The Supreme Court has not made a decision yet on the case.