Charges dropped against former BMS students
Charges related to threats to "shoot up" Belen Middle School earlier this school year were dismissed last week for three teens accused of making violent comments on campus.
The teens, Lawrence Chavez, Alejandro Ortega and Mateo Jaquez, were charged with interfering with the educational process in October after they allegedly made threats to harm teachers and students.
Each were accused of making violent comments during regular school hours. A student reported hearing the comments and told school staff.
The teens were questioned by Belen Police Officer Mike Esquibel, who works as the school resource officer.
Last week, Chavez and Ortega agreed to plea deals where each will serve a six-month probation period at Desert Hills, an Albuquerque day school where children can get therapy and mental health assessments.
Ortega admitted to criminal trespass, an unrelated charge, while Chavez admitted to charges of criminal trespass, regarding the BMS incident and an unrelated charge of battery as part of the plea agreement.
Another teen accused, Kahleb Lucero, agreed to a similar agreement outside of the courtroom on Jan. 30.
All charges against Jaquez were dismissed.
The teens have been expelled indefinitely from Belen Schools and cannot return to campus.
The defense attorneys who represented the teens were adamant that the charges their clients agreed to didn't have anything to do with alleged threats against the school.
"There were never any witnesses against Mateo," said defense attorney Greg Gaudette. "No one could say that he did anything wrong."
Defense Attorney Randy Chavez, who represented Ortega, said the evidence "didn't coincide" with the charges.
"The whole case was blown completely out of proportion," Chavez said.
Lawrence Chavez's defense attorney, Kathleen Rhinehart made a point to tell Judge Violet Otero that there was no admission to the disruption of the educational process by her client as part of the plea and disposition agreement with the district attorney's office.
Belen police said those arrested from the original incident claimed to be affiliated with the 18th Street Gang in Albuquerque.
-- Email the author at email@example.com.