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Release conditions change slightly for former daycare owners

Supreme Court required conditions during appeal be no stricter than pre-trial conditions.


Last updated 9/23/2020 at 5:18pm

PORTALES — A virtual bond hearing Wednesday for a pair of former daycare owners appealing their 2019 conviction was largely outlined last week by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

However, some changes were made for Sandi and Mary Taylor, over objections of the family of a child who died in July 2017 after being left in a hot car nearly three hours while under the Taylor Tots daycare service. Maliyah Jones, 22 months, died as a result of injuries suffered. Aubri Loya, then 23 months, was seriously injured.

The Taylors were granted release last week by the New Mexico Supreme Court while they appeal their conviction for reckless child abuse. The order from the court required that the Ninth Judicial District not impose release conditions more strict than those the Taylors faced before they stood trial.

For that reason, District Judge Donna Mowrer kept in place $100,000 surety bonds for each and declined requests for ankle monitoring made by relatives of Maliyah Jones. Mowrer also allowed Sandi Taylor’s 17-year-old stepson to live with her in Clovis and for the Taylors to travel outside of the district for medical reasons. Other travel outside of the district, Mowrer said, would have to be cleared in advance by the court, and any time Mary Taylor wished to spend with grandchildren must be supervised.

Tye Harmon, attorney for the Taylors, requested the Taylors’ bond be lowered to an own recognizance, and for travel outside of the district to include church and family activities. He said the Taylors showed through their conduct in the time between being charged and facing trial they were not a danger to anybody in the community or a flight risk.

“This court is well aware Sandi and Mary Taylor were under conditions of release for 19 months,” Harmon said. “They compiled with all conditions, made every court hearing and arrived early.”

District Attorney Andrea Reeb told Mowrer that she understood release conditions could not be any more stringent, but saw no need to make them less stringent.

Reeb agreed with Harmon the Taylors met all of their release conditions, but didn’t believe that was adequate reason to lower the bond and argued they can still be considered a flight risk.

“I think we’re in a different position than we were prior to trial,” Reeb said. “We’ve had a conviction.”

Reeb also disagreed with allowing out-of-district travel for family activities because a local family “doesn’t have their child because of the conduct of these individuals.”

Erika and Geraldine Tafoya, the mother and grandmother of Maliyah Jones, argued the Taylors should not be allowed to leave the district and should be on ankle monitors.

“They’re out, and that’s a privilege in itself,” Geraldine Tafoya said. “I don’t think they should get any more privileges.”

Erika Tafoya said she disagreed with the release in general, given their 2019 conviction. In addition to ankle monitoring, she wanted orders to restrict contact with children.

“I believe they’re a threat, especially to children under the age of 3 who cannot speak for themselves,” Erika Tafoya said. “I think it’s in the community’s best interest to (put into) place those restrictions.”

Family members of Aubri Loya attended the hearing but declined to address the court.

Harmon also asked the Taylors be allowed contact with parents of other children who were customers of Taylor Tots, so long as they had not previously testified or been on a witness list. Mowrer declined the request, and agreed with Reeb’s position that those parents could end up becoming witnesses should a new trial be ordered.

Mowrer said she would prepare the order, and Harmon said his clients would be there early Thursday morning to sign the documents.


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