The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Judge declines to dismiss case against airmen

 

CLOVIS — The case against three airmen charged with raping a colleague early this year will not be dismissed, nor will the woman's testimony be excluded from the trial scheduled for October, Judge Drew Tatum ruled Monday. But defense and prosecuting attorneys will have to be more communicative and professional with each other — and soon, he said.

"What I think this comes down to is essentially just poor communication and lack of professionalism on both sides," Tatum said at the end of a motion hearing Monday afternoon in Curry County. "When I don't see (professionalism), it drives me to the wall. You will work together and you will get the interviews done."

Interviews were at the core of the motion, filed by Albuquerque defense attorney Craig Acorn on the grounds of "prosecutorial misconduct" after Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover told the woman not to respond to a subpoena for a June 5 interview with Acorn.

"I have an absolute right to interview these witnesses without interference," Acorn said, adding that he could be arrested if he had acted similarly.

Stover said he couldn't attend the interview with her that date and preferred it be rescheduled (currently set for Wednesday) rather than have another attorney or victim advocate from the 9th Judicial District to attend in his place. He cited the state's "Victim of Crimes Act" for his decision and said he was prepared to accept sanctions, but requested the case itself not be impacted.

"He's mad. He is a mad man. He is mad about this," Stover said of Acorn's position.

"To say I'm mad — that's not true," Acorn responded, noting he'd filed a complaint against Stover with the state bar association. "I'm outraged. "

Tatum ruled interviews be conducted within the next three weeks, but said that timeline might be affected if Stover continued with his stated intention to file a motion to separate the three cases. All three airmen are joined in one case and each are charged with second-degree criminal sexual penetration.

Isaiah Edley, 19, appeared with his attorney Acorn, as did Thomas Newton, 25, with attorney Ben Herrmann. Rahman Buchanan, 19, also appeared with his newly appointed public defender Mark Earnest.

 

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