New Mexico v. Loza

On November 1, 2011, officers discovered Defendant Matias Loza smelling strongly of gasoline and cowering under a fifth-wheel trailer. One hundred yards away, a Suzuki automobile containing the human remains of Richard Valdez was fully engulfed in flames. Shoeprints in the area were consistent with the shoes Defendant was wearing. After claiming that he had been brought to the area by a truck, which he had just escaped after being shot at by its occupants, Defendant offered one of the officers $40,000 to let him go free. Following a more extensive investigation into Defendant’s background and his reasons for being so near the murder scene, detectives ascertained Defendant was connected with the AZ Boys gang, and gathered further intelligence from anonymous sources that Defendant had in fact served as a hitman and killed Valdez in connection with the gang’s drug trafficking activity. In this case, the issue before the New Mexico Supreme Court was whether defendant’s racketeering convictions foreclosed a subsequent prosecution for the crimes alleged as the predicate offenses in the earlier racketeering case. In support of the racketeering charges, the State alleged the underlying predicate offenses of murder, arson, and bribery of a public officer. The State then sought to prosecute Defendant for the crimes alleged as the predicate offenses in the earlier prosecution-murder, arson, and bribery-as well as other related charges. Defendant contended this subsequent prosecution violated his Fifth Amendment right against double jeopardy, and the his Article II, Section 15 rights from the New Mexico Constitution. Disagreeing that double jeopardy attached to the subsequent prosecution, the New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to dismiss. View "New Mexico v. Loza" on Justia Law