Murder charges dropped for woman accused in deadly stolen van crash

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Elexus Groves was charged with first-degree murder for killing a mother and daughter during a crash in a stolen van. Now that charge has been dropped, the judge in this case saying prosecutors filed the wrong charges.      

In his ruling Judge Brett Loveless not only dropped the first-degree felony murder charge, he also gave prosecutors a lesson in the law.

Last month Elexus Groves’ attorney argued the now 21-year-old never intended to hurt or kill anyone. 

“I don’t believe that this case fits first-degree felony murder and those two counts should be dismissed,” said attorney Brittany Malott. 

Last week, a district judge agreed that Groves’ charges didn’t fit the crime and dropped them.

“He told me, don’t stop, and then when that car got in the way he told me, ‘Don’t f****** stop,'” Groves said in a 2017 interview with police. 

Last January, Groves tried to outrun police in a stolen van. According to police, she sped through a stop sign at Chelwood Park and Copper and hit another car. 

Shaunna Arredondo and her 14-year-old daughter Shaylee Boling, were killed in the crash 

“Came right on down and hit her the way into the side of this building here,” said witness Joseph Winfield. 

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, Judge Brett Loveless ruled that running from police isn’t a basis for a first-degree murder charge. 

In his ruling he says state prosecutors might have had better luck if they had pursued a different charge, first degree “deprived mind” murder.
  
According to the New Mexico statutes, that charge covers any act greatly dangerous to the lives of others, indicating a depraved mind regardless of human life.

When asked if the charges can be refiled, the District Attorney’s office issued the following statement: 

“At this point, we are still reviewing the district court’s order and our options to determine the next appropriate steps.”

According to the judge’s ruling, the jury can still consider second-degree murder charges. That carries a maximum of 15 years. 

Groves’ jury trial is set to begin April 16. 
 

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