The defense attorney for a teen charged with killing Santa Fe High School basketball star Fedonta “JB” White has accused prosecutors of trying to block him from gathering evidence by naming everyone with a connection to the case as a witness for the state.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, say Dan Marlowe, the attorney for 17-year-old Estevan Montoya, has been trying to persuade the state’s witnesses to provide statements to the defense without notifying the District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors are seeking adult sanctions against Montoya, who was 16 in August, when police say he shot 18-year-old White at a house party in Chupadero.

Montoya is charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, unlawful carrying of a handgun by a person under 19 and negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Marlowe has said Montoya shot White in self-defense as the much bigger boy — a student-athlete who planned to graduate from high school early and play basketball for the University of New Mexico — was chasing him after a brief fight.

Marlowe argued in a motion filed Monday the district attorney’s witness list is unnecessarily large, naming even Montoya’s own mother as a witness for the state.

“The State has intentionally obstructed the Defendant’s ability to obtain exculpatory information from these witnesses,” Marlowe wrote, “and has told [him] to ask for pretrial interviews of their witnesses, basically 157 pretrial interviews.”

The motion asked the court to exclude the state’s witnesses and to release Montoya as a sanction for the behavior.

“It’s not a good witness list,” Marlowe said in an interview Tuesday. “And I don’t like the thought process behind it — just stick a flag in everybody, and I can’t talk to them.”

Marlowe also argued in his motion that despite a state law requiring the District Attorney’s Office to provide addresses for witnesses, 63 state witnesses in this case have an address listed as “c/o the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Blake Nichols said in an email Tuesday the office has offered to arrange witness interviews with Marlowe, but he has only asked to speak with two of them. In the meantime, Nichols said, Marlowe has continued to make direct contact with witnesses and “attempted to get them to give ‘one-on-one’ statements … without notifying us … that defense was going to take these statements.”

None of the witnesses was told not to speak with the defense attorney, Nichols said, but they were advised “they did not need to give a one-on-one interview and that these matters are typically handled with witness statements via notices of statement or pretrial interviews.”

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said Marlowe doesn’t need her office’s permission to speak with witnesses. “However out of courtesy and agreement, he should have notified us,” she wrote in an email, adding, “both sides have agreed to speak with witnesses together.”

Marlowe confirmed he agreed not to conduct any recorded interviews with witnesses unless prosecutors were present, but he said he never made an agreement not to speak with witnesses at all. Marlowe filed a motion in December asking the court to move Montoya’s trial from Santa Fe to Los Alamos. White’s reputation as a hometown hero and the publicity surrounding the case would make it impossible for Montoya to receive a fair trial in Santa Fe, he argued.

“The attention that this case draws would be less extreme in Los Alamos,” Marlowe wrote in the motion. “JB wasn’t a local boy there as he was in Santa Fe.”

The state has opposed moving the trial. State District Judge T. Glenn Ellington is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter Wednesday.

(3) comments

Chris Mechels

It seems the new 1st District Attorney is just more of the same, bent on overcharging and charge stacking. Her Deputy, Padgett, who was also the Deputy under Serna, is notorious for these practices. It's "tough on crime" all over again, in the worst DA office in the state. Meanwhile, killer cops get a pass.

It is unclear why we have laws allowing for dealing with young people, when the DA insists, in case after case, on trying them as adults. What's the point?

In the current case, it's being charged as 1st Degree Murder, which means premeditated. This charge seems unwarranted, but they'll try to slip it past the jury, as they have in the past. Many of these get overturned on appeal, as they should be. They should also move the trial to Los Alamos, as the media and DA have been poisoning the well in Santa Fe. Hopefully the Judge will move it.

The 1st District DA, for decades now, is a mess, worst in the state. Poor management, overcharging, staff turnover. Padgett is certainly a large part of the problem, but it goes back through Pacheco.

Time for the courts to step in, and clean up this travesty of justice. Along the way, they should restore the Grand Jury independence, as that could help in oversight of the jails, and charging Malfeasance against Government workers, where they laugh at their oaths, and our laws. The 1st District is where Malfeasance SHOULD be changed against our corrupt government, but they just laugh at the idea.

Really, we CAN do better than this, even in New Mexico.

John Martinez

Not all juveniles commit murder, that's why they have services that assist these juveniles, that may get in trouble with the justice system. I don't see how the Courts are going to police or have any authority or the DA, this would mean an unbalance in the the justice system (even more than current) and ex-parte communication between them both. Also, how is charging Montoya for Murder, "over charging or charge stacking"? You o not have any evidence of this case and you can't make the judgment that this was a premeditated murder. If anything this DA has not either over charged or charge stacked any of these trash pedophiles that hit their desks, they've done the opposite.

Phillip Trujillo

I don't know either of the young men, but much like the trial of the former guy for his second impeachment trial the jury already knows their verdict before they are even selected. Fame or fortune is always the winner. The trial should be moved but it will not. It will be typical American Justice.

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