Lawmakers look to abolish statute of limitations for second-degree murder

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – For most states, there’s no statute of limitations for murder — but there is in New Mexico in particular circumstances, and some state lawmakers think that’s wrong.

Rep. Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque) are looking to change the law when it comes to second-degree murder in New Mexico, which has a six-year time limit for prosecution.

First-degree murder, meaning premeditated, has no statute of limitation. Second-degree, however, is treated like any other second-degree felony and comes with that six-year cap.

Rep. Maestas and Rep. Rehm want to get rid of that cap for second-degree murder, which can be a lot easier prosecute than first-degree.

You can indict on a first-degree, but it’s very, very difficult to prove malice of forethought on a cold case,” Rep. Maestas said. “It’s very difficult because the reasonable doubt standard is so high. It’s difficult to prove first-degree on a case that happened yesterday, much less a case that happened 20 years ago.”

The bill has been introduced a handful of times before, but with no success getting to the governor.

Rep. Maestas says in the past, fellow lawmakers have muddied the waters by trying to add other crimes to the bill. This year, however, Rep. Maestas plans to keep the bill strictly about second-degree murder.

The governor has already indicated she will sign off on this legislation, but there’s only a week left in the session and this bill still has a ways to go. It hasn’t yet been voted on the House floor.

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