A judge on Thursday declined a request to toss evidence against a Santa Fe woman accused of shooting and killing a teenager in 2019, rejecting an argument from the defense that it was obtained through an illegal search.
Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer declined to grant defense attorney Shelby Bradley’s motion to suppress evidence after finding the officers who found a .22-caliber shell casing at Beverly Melendez’s Quapaw Street home did so legally.
Melendez, 66, is accused of firing a rifle into her neighbor’s yard, striking 19-year-old Rodrigo Enriquez-Garay.
Enriquez-Garay was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Melendez, who called 911 and told emergency dispatchers someone was being sacrificed next door, according to a criminal complaint filed in state District Court, was arrested after a short standoff at her home.
She is charged with second-degree murder and two counts of negligent use of a firearm.
Three Santa Fe police officers testified during Thursday’s hearing, with one saying he saw a casing from about 15 feet away after the light of his flashlight reflected off of it as officers conducted a perimeter sweep.
The casing was later marked by another officer before a search warrant was granted hours later. The discovery of the shell casing was included as a reason to grant the warrant.
Bradley argued the shell casing was found in the backyard through an illegal search of the property masquerading as a perimeter sweep and should be thrown out.
But Sommer disagreed, finding the search to be routine and legal.
“I believe they were legitimately on the premises and that because they were responding to a crime scene and continuing their sweep, I think it can certainly extend to the yard,” Sommer said. “I don’t think their legitimacy expired by then, and I don’t think the type of searching or looking was a warrantless search.”
Sommer also declined to grant Bradley’s request for his client to be released on bond.
Jury selection for Melendez’s trial is scheduled to start May 17.