Parents challenge charge tied to 2019 Rio Rancho school shooting

New Mexico

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – The parents of a Rio Rancho teen who opened fire inside a high school last year are trying a new tactic to get their charge dropped. They believe the state is stretching the definition of the law, but the state isn’t buying their claim.

Dale and Tamara Owen are charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after their son, then-16-year-old Josh, found their gun, took it to school, and fired it.
District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said the charge should stick.

“We don’t believe the statute is void for vagueness, that it’s either arbitrary or capricious,” Martinez stated. The Owens were indicted by a grand jury and charged for the incident that happened on Valentine’s Day in 2019 at Sue Cleveland High School. No one was injured in the shooting.

Under the contributing to the delinquency of a minor statute, the state has to prove that the Owens didn’t perform their duties as parents.

In a court filing asking for an appeal by the Owens in early September, they question if the charge should apply to this case because they were “overly cautious” with Josh’s oversight and medication and there is no law requiring guns to be kept in a locked safe.

They also gave the argument that under the state’s “broad application of this statute,” they would have to restrict everything in their home, questioning if parents would be obligated to hide their keys if a child steals their car and drives recklessly.

Martinez said this case is different. “The consequences could’ve been fatal so, no, I don’t think those are analogous, good examples,” Martinez said.

In August, the court denied the couple’s previous motion to determine how the statute applies to this case and to declare the statute void for being “vague and overly broad.”

It’s up to the Court of Appeals to decide whether to accept the Owens’ new filing. Martinez said that could take months.

Josh Owen was found incompetent in a forensic evaluation, the state could not find a facility that could treat him and his case was dismissed.

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