Judge drops charges against 3 people linked to filthy New Mexico compound
- Author: Jon Douglas Sep 01, 2018,
Sep 01, 2018, 5:04
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, his father, is accused of abducting the boy, whose decomposed remains were discovered three days after the raid.
Along with the eleven children found living at the compound in squalor, police discovered the body of a three year old who had gone missing and died in the care of the suspects.
A New Mexico judge tossed out all charges filed against three of five defendants detained at an "extremist Muslim" compound in New Mexico Wednesday, saying authorities violated a "10 day rule" that required "evidentiary hearings" to justify "probable cause".
Morton, as well as Subhannah and Hujrah Wahhaj, had their charges dismissed Wednesday.
They were due in court Wednesday on charges of child abuse resulting in death, which could carry life sentences in connection with the death of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj.
After a storm of criticism and insults on social media against his two prosecutors, District Attorney Donald Gallegos appealed for the public to stop "cussing and threatening". The defendants were all charged with 11 counts of felony child abuse but nothing terrorism-related, and the guns found at the compound were legally possessed, a judge said.
But authorities later pushed ahead with new charges of child abuse resulting in death against the dead boy's father and mother, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and his partner Jany Leveille.
Law enforcement offices finally raided the compound August 3 after Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe's office received a message, thought to have come from someone inside, saying, "We are starving and need food and water".
Judge Emilio Chavez dismissed the charges against Lucas Allen Morton, Hurjah Wahhaj, and Subhannah Wahhaj after prosecutors failed to ask for a preliminary hearing to present evidence against the trio within the standard window of ten business days. Not-guilty pleas were entered by the court on each defendant's behalf.
The judge added: "I don't know if they are overworked or they don't have enough people at their office".
Law enforcement officials previously accused Wahhaj and Leveille of denying the boy proper medicine and health care before he died in December 2017 during a religious ritual aimed at casting out demonic spirits.
The boy initially was reported missing previous year from Jonesboro, Georgia, by his mother after Siraj Ibn Wahhaj said he was taking the child to a park and didn't return.
Court documents say authorities believe Wahhaj was possibly training children to commit mass school shootings. The exact cause of death has not been determined by forensic specialists.
Court officials issued a release to defend the ruling, saying, "The state constitution provides that criminal defendants may be detained in jail pretrial only if prosecutors show by clear and convincing evidence that they are so risky that no release conditions will reasonably protect public safety". Law enforcement seized a document from the compound called "Phases of a Terrorist Attack", which included ambiguous instructions for "the one-time terrorist" and "the ideal attack site".