Talon News - Good Local News

By Debbie Israel



September 22, 2017

Debbie Israel

Diane Hathcock and Becky Romero, organizers of the event are clear about the rally's purpose

It was a small crowd that gathered at 7 AM on Sept. 19 to rally against the "Catch and Release" constitutional amendment that puts repeat offenders back out on the streets. Diane Hathcock and Becky Romero organized the group after the Aug. 27 traffic stop in Farmington where a NM State Police officer was shot by William Wilson. Mr. Wilson had recently been released back into the public with a GPS tracking device around his ankle. "We see how well that turned out," Hathcock said. "If he had not been released on his own recognizance, he might still be alive." Wilson was killed after he shot the state police officer, hitting his badge. The officer was treated and released at the hospital.

The shooting of the officer mobilized the local group to speak out against the amendment that had been voted on and passed by unsuspecting citizens. Senator Bill Sharer attended the rally which was held near the District Court building in Aztec. San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen and Undersheriff Shane Ferrari were also there supporting the cause.

The rally attendance might have been small, but many vehicles driving by honked their horns as signs of support. The organizers were pleased with the turnout. Hathcock said the group is planning for a rally in Santa Fe in October, but that is still in the works.

She said "We were really pleased that the mother of the officer who was shot in Farmington came by, and also the husband of the deputy involved in the shooting."

The amendment reads, in part: "A person who is not detainable on grounds of dangerousness nor a flight risk in the absence of bond and is otherwise eligible for bail shall not be detained solely because of financial inability to post a money or property bond. A defendant who is neither a danger nor a flight risk and who has a financial inability to post a money or property bond may file a motion with the court requesting relief from the requirement to post bond. The court shall rule on the motion in an expedited manner. (As amended Nov. 4, 1980, Nov. 8, 1988 and Nov. 8, 2016)."

Hathcock says that the amendment was changed by resolution by the Supreme Court Justices after it was passed by voters, so what we voted on is not what we got. "We're not fighting the amendment, but the resolution that came after," she said.

Debbie Israel

Catch and Release Rally

Hathcock and her followers want to make a statement that the community and our first responders are being put at risk because dangerous, repeat offenders are being let out of jail on their own recognizance. "Now our police officers have to watch out for new bad guys and old bad guys," she said.

This brings us back to the case of William Wilson, whose criminal record began in 2010, at the age of 19, or possibly before. It's a long list of charges, including charges in 2015 of aggravated burglary (armed after entering), larceny with a firearm and receiving stolen property. Most recently, Wilson had been in the San Juan County Detention Center on charges of possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon. On Aug. 3, 2017, Wilson was released from the San Juan County Detention Center on a non-secured bond. Less than three weeks later, he proved himself to be "dangerous" when he pulled a firearm and shot a police officer.


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