Three Amalia compound suspects released from jail; two held on new charges

New Mexico

The five adults found living with 11 children in deplorable conditions at a compound in Amalia were in court Wednesday. 

A judge tossed the child abuse charges for three of them and ordered them released from jail. 

It was a different story for the other two, including the Muslim extremist in charge at the compound. 

Lucas Morton, Sabhannah and Hujrah Wahhaj looked excited walking out of the court room Wednesday morning because they learned they could be free as early as Wednesday afternoon. 

“The rule for dismissal without prejudice reads if the preliminary hearing is not held within the time of this rule, the court shall dismiss the case without prejudice and discharge the defendants,” Judge Emilio Chavez said. 

The defense argued the three didn’t get a preliminary hearing in time — the ten day rule. 

Judge Emilio Chavez ruled that the child abuse charges against the three could be dropped. 

Siraj Wahhaj and Jany Levielle were seen in court Wednesday afternoon, where their lawyers made the same argument. 

Judge Jeff McElroy ruled in their favor, and lectured the District Attorney’s office over the mistake. 

“There was no excuse and no reason why the District Attorney’s office could not have requested these preliminary hearings. I don’t know whether they are overworked or they don’t have enough people at their office,” Judge Jeff McElroy said. 

However, those two are not going anywhere, since the state did file new charges against Leveille and Wahhaj for child abuse resulting in death, for letting his disabled son die before burying him on the property. 

They will be held behind bars for now. Next week, prosecutors will argue they should stay behind bars until trial. 

The DA’s office can refile the child abuse charges against all five suspects for the neglect which the 11 surviving children suffered. 

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