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

Charges dropped against bounty hunter


March 27, 2019

CLOVIS — Felony charges against a bounty hunter accused of kidnapping a subject from Clovis in 2017 were dropped just days in advance of a trial this week after an alleged victim signed an “affidavit of non-prosecution.”

Bradley Smith, 40, of Lubbock, was among three bondsmen charged last year with kidnapping, aggravated burglary and extortion in connection with what local police said was the unlawful extradition in April 2017 of one Jared Baca, a man allegedly wanted then on misdemeanor charges out of Ford County, Kansas.

Smith was scheduled for a jury trial today, but that was canceled after prosecutors dismissed the case without prejudice Friday citing “insufficient evidence,” according to court records.

District Attorney Andrea Reeb told The News on Tuesday that she believed a pending civil case involving the bondsmen was influencing the proceeding of criminal charges. An affidavit Baca signed March 14 stated he did not want the state to pursue Smith for criminal liability, that he “do(es) not believe Mr. Smith is a danger to me or anyone else in the community” and that Smith had “made full financial restitution” to Baca.

“He’s stating all this stuff which is going to make it hard for us to convict on a criminal level,” Reeb said. “It doesn’t prevent us from prosecuting, but it makes it very difficult to get in front of a jury with a situation like this.”

Baca referred questions Tuesday to his civil attorney Frances Crockett, representing him and some family members whose home the bondsmen allegedly entered during the 2017 incident.

“It is always the state’s decision whether or not to prosecute the case,” she told The News. “Mr. Baca had no input in regard to whether or not the case would be dismissed. He did submit an affidavit of non-prosecution, which only applied to him, it only applied to his case.”

Crockett emphasized that Baca had no input particularly as to the burglary charges being filed or dismissed on Smith, and that if prosecutors decided to dismiss all charges due to his affidavit then “that was completely up to the discretion of the state.”

“The affidavit of non-prosecution only applied to the charges that were brought against Mr. Smith that dealt directly with Mr. Baca, and those charges I believe were the kidnapping charges,” she said. “My understanding is that burglary charge was brought, and that was because of the entry to the home. My client didn’t own the home and didn’t have any standing to argue for the dropping of (those) charges.”

As for signing the affidavit at all, Crockett said her client “felt that it was important to let the DAs office know that Mr. Smith had met financial restitution against him.”

Reeb responded to those points, telling The News that the burglary and kidnapping charges were “intertwined” since Smith had been charged with entering the residence with the intent to commit a felony.

“The actual victim of that burglary is Jared (Baca),” Reeb said. “(Crockett) is angry and I understand that’s her argument but we just don’t think it’s going to fly with a jury. ... You have to prove the kidnapping in order to prove the burglary.”

Reeb said the owners of the residence where the incident took place could still possibly pursue a misdemeanor trespassing charge if they were so inclined.

“If they really wanted, we could look at that and re-evaluate,” Reeb said.

Smith’s attorney Michael Garrett told The News on Tuesday he had no comment on the matter and that he’d only represented Smith on the criminal charges, not the civil case.

Charges could still be re-filed on Smith. Felony charges are still pending for bondsmen Fabian Arreola and Yeira Sanchez from Dodge City, Kansas, who are scheduled for jury trials in June. Reeb said she wasn’t aware of a similar affidavit of non-prosecution on file for those two defendants.

“I don’t have anything new on that,” Arreola attorney Christopher Marlowe told The News. “I frankly think this should be dismissed as well, so we’ll see what happens.”

Sanchez’s attorney did not immediately return messages Tuesday seeking comment.


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