Suspect in deadly stolen van crash wants murder charges dismissed

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Murder charges could soon be dropped against the Albuquerque woman accused of killing a mother and daughter during a crash in a stolen van.

Elexus Groves’ attorney said the murder charges are all about intent, and at Monday’s hearing she told a judge it wasn’t Groves’ intention to harm anyone. 

Witnesses to the deadly crash called it a direct hit.

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

Shaunna Arredondo and her 14-year-old daughter Shaylee Boling, were killed in the crash at Chelwood Park and Copper in January 2017.

Police said Groves tried to outrun them in a stolen van when she sped through a stop sign and crashed into the family’s car.

Groves and her passenger, Paul Garcia, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

In a hearing Monday, Groves’ attorney Brittany Malott, moved to have those charges dropped. 

She cited a State Supreme Court ruling that limits first-degree murder charges stemming from deaths that occur during a felony crime unless it can be proven there was intent to kill or the crime created a “strong probability of death.”

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

Prosecutors disagreed and argued that this crash doesn’t fall under the ruling. 

“Even though committing the fleeing in a dangerous manner is a part of aggravated fleeing that doesn’t dismiss the fact that there is the independent felonious purpose,” a prosecutor said. 

According to Malott, Groves’ intention wasn’t to harm anyone and the only charge that should stand is vehicular homicide. 

“What I’m saying is there is not felonious purpose other than endangering another person,” Malott said. 

The defense also argued that had no one been injured at all in the crash, the charges against Groves would be evading police, a misdemeanor. 

If the judge upholds the murder charges, Groves and Garcia could face life in prison. If the charges get dropped to vehicular homicide, they would face up to six years for each victim.

Judge Brett Loveless said he expects to make a decision in a couple of days. Both Groves and Garcia are slated to go on trial April 16. 
    

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