ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The man accused of beating a Cibola High School student with a shovel wants some of the charges against him dismissed even though police say DNA links him to the crime.
Police arrested Justin Hansen, 34, last July. He’s accused of beating Brittani Marcell with a shovel inside her Northwest Albuquerque home in 2008. She was just 17 at the time.
She woke up from a coma with no memory of who put her there until police said she remembered his name in October 2016.
According to police, Hansen’s DNA matched the DNA from blood found at the crime scene.
Since police didn’t have a suspect for nearly a decade, in 2010 prosecutors originally filed charges under the name “John Doe.”
University of New Mexico Law Professor Joshua Kastenberg said there’s a reason for that.
“A prosecutor might seek an indictment against an unknown person, Jane Doe or John Doe, to stop that statute of limitations,” Kastenberg said.
A statute of limitations is a law that can differ in every state. It sets the maximum time prosecutors have to bring charges against individuals from the date of an alleged offense.
Kastenberg said, “the statute of limitations keeps citizens in the United States from being brought to trial 20 or 30 years after an alleged crime occurred and all the evidence disappears.”
Once detectives linked Hansen to the crime and prosecutors obtained his name, the DA’s office filed a “superseding indictment” replacing “John Doe” with “Justin Hansen.”
In the superseding indictment, Hansen is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, burglary, battery and child abuse.
He’s now arguing some of those charges should be dismissed because the statute of limitations has run out.
In a motion filed Tuesday, Hansen’s attorney argues that in “John Doe” cases with DNA evidence, New Mexico law only allows the statute of limitations to be put on pause when the crime is rape.
It’s a charge Hansen is not facing.
If the judge rules in favor of the defense, the only charges that would remain are kidnapping and child abuse.
The DA’s office said a DNA profile proves Hansen was the attacker and it doesn’t think a judge will buy the defense’s argument. Prosecutors plan to file a response.