Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Torrance County judge

New Mexico

MOUNTAINAIR, N.M. (KRQE) – A simple, carefree bike ride between two dear friends, ended in tragedy when a New Mexico judge plowed into them with her car. She’s not been charged with a crime but the family of the cyclist killed is now suing her and the court she works for.

“He called me Saturday morning and said I feel like I need to get a little work out in. And I said, well do you wanna go for a hike, and he said no, let’s just go on a little bike ride,” said Karl Baumgartner, a good friend of Billy Weinman,

For the two men, cycling was a part of life but on September 21, 2019, it was the last ride they’d ever make together.

“Are you on the roadway?” a 911 dispatcher says on the phone.

Judge Shannon Murdock said, “Yeah. 60. There were two bicyclists and I hit them.”

Shannon Murdock is a judge in Torrance County and she’d hit the two men on Highway 60 outside Mountainair. Karl Baumgartner was critically injured, but alive. Billy Weinman was not so lucky.

“They were both knocked pretty hard. It was instantaneous for my brother,” said his sister Irene Weinman.

Since Weinman’s death, Judge Murdock has not faced any charges. A witness told investigators the judge was driving erratically. Investigators found no sign of an attempt to avoid hitting the men.

Officers determined she was not impaired and she handed over her personal cell phone which investigators say was not in use at the time of the crash.

A Larry Barker investigation found that the judge had her state-issued phone on her at the time of the crash but did not hand that over to authorities.

The lawsuit claims Murdock failed to even advise law enforcement she had a second phone and that it remained in constant use in the days and months after the crash.

“Having your phone put in airplane mode and seized is part of the crash investigation,” a deputy can be heard saying in lapel video.

The suit says Murdock was negligent and reckless while acting in the scope of her job and says, as a result, ended in the death of Billy Weinman.

“He was so much fun. He laughed. He enjoyed life. You know, the sunsets and the sunrises. And everything in between,” said Irene Weinman.

Due to a conflict of interest in the case, State Police and the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office have taken over the case.

On Thursday, the DA’s Office told KRQE News 13 they just got the last bit of information they needed on Monday and are in their final review of the case. Going on to say they will be making their decision shortly.

KRQE News 13 reached out to Judge Murdock to see if she wanted to comment on the lawsuit and have yet to hear back.

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