ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a deadly crash in 2017 that killed a mother and daughter and the suspects fled from police. Now, the state Supreme Court has ruled whether the suspects can be tried for murder.

A judge threw out first murder charges against Elexus Groves and Paul Garcia saying there was no pre-meditation when the two led police on a chase that ended in a fatal crash. Monday, the Supreme Court ruled, a person who causes a death while fleeing a law enforcement officer could face prosecution for first-degree murder in certain circumstances.

District Attorney Raul Torrez says it’s what they argued all along. “The strategy that we took all along has been vindicated by the Supreme Court and we look forward to moving this case to trial as soon as possible,” Torrez said.

During the 2017 pursuit, police say Groves sped through a stop sign and hit another car after stealing a vehicle. Shaunna Arredondo and her 14-year-old daughter Shaylee Boling were killed.

Groves and her passenger, Paul Garcia, were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder because the deaths happened during the commission of a felony: fleeing from law enforcement. However, in 2018 Judge Brett Loveless ruled that running from the police isn’t a basis for a first-degree murder charge.

Monday, the Supreme Court concluded that the charge of aggravated fleeing a police officer can provide the basis for a felony murder prosecution as long as the evidence shows the defendant had the criminal intent required under the law. Torrez says this ruling gets them closer to closure for the victim’s family.

“This is one of those crimes that rocked this community we lost two people in a horrific and totally senseless crash, it’s been over three years now. So it’s going to be great for them to get this case back on track now that he has this ruling from the Supreme Court,” Torrez says.

The DA’s office says they plan to re-file charges against Groves and Garcia before the year is over. This ruling also affects David Barber. He is accused of leading police on an RV chase, eventually crashing into and killing Tito Pacheco in 2017. He will now face first-degree murder charges.

Related Coverage