DWI hit-and-run case dismissed after prosecutor’s mistake

On Special Assignment

A family is upset after they say the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office dropped the ball, letting a dangerous driver go free.

Kiana Archunde was driving with her boyfriend, Francisco Reyes, after 11:30 p.m. on August 10, 2018.

They had a green light and headed south on Coors at Central when a white Ford pickup truck coming in the opposite direction made a left turn and slammed into their car, according to the police report.

“I saw just headlights coming from the left-hand side, and I slammed on my breaks,” Kiana said.

“Panic, pain… looked at her to make sure she was alright,” Francisco said, pointing to his girlfriend.

“First thing that I did is grab my phone and call 911,” Kiana explained.

As the couple sat in pain, trapped in the crunched metal of their car, witnesses watched the suspect speed off.

“One of the people is fleeing, and we’re trying to get the license plate,” witnesses told the dispatcher after calling 911.

Police don’t suggest risking your own lives to do this, but these witnesses followed the pickup truck. They got a look at the license plate and the driver to report the information to the Albuquerque Police Department.

“He ran across the street into the apartments,” a witness said while monitoring the suspect’s whereabouts.

Police arrested Lorenzo Angel for aggravated DWI and leaving the scene of an accident.

Kiana’s father, Stanley Archunde, was relieved at first.

“We thought, ‘Alright, things are gonna be okay.’ But it didn’t turn out okay,” Stanley said.

“It’s almost like you’re pulling teeth to get justice served,” Francisco remarked.

APD body camera video shows what happened when police confronted Lorenzo.

“Alright, so here’s the deal, okay. I have somebody who witnessed you driving…crash into them and take off. So, you want to be honest with me now?” the officer asked Lorenzo.

Lorenzo maintains that he wasn’t behind the wheel of his damaged truck.

“I…I…I…literally, I drank up there,” Lorenzo said, motioning to a nearby apartment complex. “I came back down to look at my truck, and my truck got wrecked. Somebody hit my truck.”

Court records show Lorenzo has two prior DWI convictions, one involving a hit-and-run crash. 

He was also arrested in 2015. Police say he was swerving and speeding before he crashed into a brick wall near Sage and Unser and then ran from the scene.

However, there may not have been enough evidence proving he was the driver, and prosecutors didn’t pursue the case.

Then, came the crash that sent Kiana and Francisco to the hospital.

The victims and their families say that case came to a screeching halt on January 28, 2019, because of a careless mistake by the District Attorney’s Office.”They need to be exposed that they’re not doing their jobs,” Stanley said.

Court records show prosecutors failed to name an essential witness, so the case was dismissed.

“He just has to pay for his consequences, and it’s not fair that we had to pay the price for what he did,” Kiana said of Lorenzo.

Kiana and Francisco are scared to drive at night now. On top of the emotional scars, Kiana pointed to her boyfriend’s scar on his right arm.

“[Francisco] has a scar to remember him for the rest of his life,” she said.

Her boyfriend had emergency surgery after he shattered his elbow in the crash. Francisco has pins, screws and a metal plate holding him together now. It took months of physical therapy.

“I almost lost my job because I had to use all my vacation, all my sick leave,” Francisco explained.

And he’s still paying the price.

“Medical bills, yeah, outstanding,” he added.

It has been about two months since the DA’s Office mistake got the case dismissed, but a spokesperson told KRQE that an interview would be “inappropriate.” 

In an email on March 20, 2019, Director of Communications Michael Patrick said prosecutors are re-filing charges against Lorenzo—this time felony charges because of the severity of Francisco’s injury.

By the time this story aired two weeks later, court records did not show that those new charges had been filed yet.

The family is waiting, wondering when Lorenzo will be tried in court for the crimes that led to his arrest.

“He got handed a free pass to walk away while my daughter’s boyfriend has a plate in his arm for the rest of his life,” Kiana’s father said. “I mean, it’s just not fair.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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