Paperwork mistake in Sandoval County almost lets career criminal walk free

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JEMEZ SPRINGS, N.M. (KRQE) – A paperwork error at the Sandoval County District Attorney’s office nearly let a career criminal, suspected in as many as 30 burglaries in the Jemez Springs area, walk free.

Nahum Hillhouse has a record filled with a slew of drug charges, which are accompanied by charges of child abuse, identity theft and trafficking stolen property.

The Jemez Springs Police Chief, Felix Nunez, says Hillhouse is one of the leaders in a group of about a dozen people who’ve burglarized 30 homes in the Jemez Springs area over the past year.

On July 27, Hillhouse took a plea deal in which he would serve a five-year sentence for two counts of being a felon with a firearm, forgery and possession of a controlled substance.

Chief Nunez and Sandoval District Attorney Lemuel Martinez told KRQE News 13, as part of the plea deal, Hillhouse had until August 10 at 5 p.m. to turn himself into the Sandoval County Detention Center.

However, Nunez says when Hillhouse arrived to turn himself in, the detention center had no paperwork informing them to book Hillhouse into jail. So, they turned him away.

“Was it the District Attorney’s office responsibility? Was it the defense attorney? Was it the court’s responsibility? That’s something we need to work out,” said Chief Nunez.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the District Attorney’s Office and the defense attorneys office for clarification, but no calls were returned.

“Between the district court and the jail, it’s a mystery where the paperwork ended up,” said Chief Nunez.

Attempting to remedy the mistake, the DA’s office filed paperwork just before 9 a.m. on August 11, telling Hillhouse he had to turn himself in by 5 p.m. that day.

KRQE News 13 learned that Hillhouse turned himself in just before 5 p.m.

“He calls us just to mock the police department. He’s very arrogant. He thinks he’s untouchable. I’m glad he turned himself in and did that,” said Cheif Nunez.

Following KRQE News 13’s initial report about the alleged crimes of Hillhouse and his group, Linda Hand, who lives near the Bandelier National Monument about an hour away from Jemez Springs, contacted KRQE News 13 and said she, too, was a victim.

“Nahum is the one I saw in my house taking my things, but he is not the one being charged,” said Hand.

Hand says she came home and caught Hillhouse in her home, but police caught his brother, Nehemiah, with the thousands of dollars worth of hunting equipment and ammunition.

Hand, who’s a teacher in Los Alamos, says the first thing that came into her head when she saw Hillhouse in her home is the active shooter training she recently completed at work.

“If I had not experienced the ‘active shooter’ training through my work I would have made different decisions during the first robbery. I think it saved my life because I would have entered the house,” said Hand.

Court records show Judge Delilah Montano-Baca released Nehemiah on his own recognizance for those charges. After he was released, Hand says he broke into her home again.

“After the first robbery, the sheriff said don’t worry about it, they won’t be back, they’ve never hit the same house twice. They were apologizing profusely in December,” said Hand.

Hand, and several other victims, just want the whole group behind bars.

“They’ve got such a ring going right now that I think it’s going to continue until they get them all,” said Hand.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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