Lack of evidence prompted state prosecutors to dismiss charges against Mario Guizar-Anchondo, 18, who is accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Ivan Perez in July 2020 and wounding another teen, a court document says.
In a motion filed Tuesday, prosecutors said the District Attorney’s Office “determined that the case must go back to the investigating agency for further review and follow up to include laboratory analysis of evidence, execution of search warrants on collected items of evidence and interviewing of possible eye witnesses.”
Guizar-Anchondo, who was set to face trial in October, faced counts of first-degree murder and aggravated battery. The case against him remains open, and the state could refile the charges.
Santa Fe police led the investigation into the fatal shooting, which occurred after two groups of teens were fighting in the parking lot of a south-side apartment complex, court records show. Witnesses reported seeing a brief confrontation between Perez and a member of an opposing “gang” before shots rang out and Perez fell to the ground.
Police Chief Andrew Padilla and Deputy Chiefs Ben Valdez and Paul Joye did not return messages late Tuesday seeking comment on prosecutors’ decision to dismiss the charges against Guizar-Anchondo.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies declined to comment.
Perez died in the parking lot of the Bluffs at Tierra Contenta with multiple gunshot wounds to his chest, reports said, and 17-year-old Angelo Hernandez was sent to the hospital with gunshot wounds to his arm and leg.
Hernandez was one of two witnesses who later would identify Guizar-Anchondo as the shooter. However, his defense attorney, Sheri A. Raphaelson, argued in May the circumstances leading to the teen’s identification as the gunman were flawed and unlawful.
“[Hernandez] had no independent knowledge of what Mario looked like but had been told that the person in the videos was Mario,” she wrote in a motion asking a state district judge to suppress evidence in the case.
Hernandez also told police he was unable to see more than the suspect’s ears and eyes, Raphaelson added.
The second witness was another teen involved in the parking lot fight who told police he had turned to see Perez fall to the ground, according to the motion.
Raphaelson argued the teens’ identification of Guizar-Anchondo from a photograph shown to them by police did not comply with protocols of eyewitness identification.
“The manner in which the photo lineup was conducted was unnecessarily suggestive and conductive to misinformation,” the motion said.
Judge T. Glenn Ellington granted Raphaelson’s request in July, prohibiting prosecutors from presenting at trial the teens’ statements to police identifying Guizar-Anchondo as the shooter.
Raphaelson declined to comment Wednesday on the dismissal of the charges against Guizar-Anchondo, who was released from the San Juan County Juvenile Detention Center on electronic monitoring July 29, court records show.