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

By Steve Hansen
Staff writer 

Clovis man's eighth DWI overturned

 

Last updated 10/2/2021 at 5:15pm



CLOVIS — A Clovis man who has been convicted eight times for driving while intoxicated has had his latest conviction and its 12-year prison sentence reversed by the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

In a “memo decision,” the appeals court overturned the March 12, 2019, verdict against Randall Pruit, 58, according to Brian Stover, chief deputy district attorney for the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s office.

Stover said the district attorney’s office has applied for a writ of certiori from the New Mexico Supreme Court that would allow the appellate court decision to be appealed to the state’s highest court.

The appeals court reversal, issued Aug. 26, was based on what the court called an unlawful seizure of Pruit because police apparently entered his home without a warrant, and because the jury instruction for the charge of leaving the scene of an accident “resulted in fundamental error,” the appeals court decision reads.

The jury instruction improperly stated that Pruit would have been required by law to “remain at the scene (of the accident) until the matter was properly reported.”

A defendant is “not required to remain at the scene of an accident under all circumstances,” the decision stated, and the jury instruction “failed to provide the jurors with an accurate rendition of the law.”

Pruit’s eighth conviction resulted from a Dec. 31, 2017, arrest after Pruit allegedly drove intoxicated into his neighbor's parked car before entering his own home.

According to court documents:

• After Pruit’s vehicle crashed into his neighbor’s, the neighbor asked if Pruit was injured. Pruit denied injury and walked into his own house without providing insurance or waiting for police to arrive. When police arrived, officers knocked on Pruit’s door for more than seven minutes before Pruit came to the door.

• Pruit would not come out of the house after police asked him to come outside, and when a police officer grabbed Pruit’s arm, he pulled away. The officer then grabbed and pulled him by the jacket outside to his porch.

• Pruit was then given a field sobriety test, which he failed. A warrant was issued to take a blood sample later, and Pruit’s blood tested positive for cocaine and a tranquilizer drug.

The appellate court’s decision agreed with Pruit that the officer’s reaching in to grab Pruit and pull him from the home constituted entry to Pruit’s home to improperly seize him without a search warrant. The decision states the court should have disregarded all evidence obtained as a result of that entry and seizure.

A jury handed down a guilty verdict in that case about a year after his Dec. 31, 2017 arrest.

Pruit was a founder of the “God Loves Underdogs Factory,” a halfway house facility for recently incarcerated men, in 2013.

His involvement had ended before his 2017 arrest, however.

 
 

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