ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. (KRQE) – The prosecutor in the state's most populous county says he's had enough. He says the criminal justice system is giving juvenile offenders too many breaks with no rules and he wants this to be fixed. District Attorney Raul Torrez says what he calls a revolving door for criminals in Albuquerque is a dangerous situation.
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According to Torrez, 21-year-old Quontez Kuvinka was convicted of being involved in a fatal accident and carjacking in 2017. The DA office wanted him behind bars, but Kuvinka was accepted into a distraction program for young adults. Then, according to Torrez, Kuvinka was caught in front of the camera last year shooting down guns and talking about selling drugs. He was sent back to the same program despite the DA office requesting that he be sent to prison again.
He was arrested again Thursday for possession of drugs and a loaded gun. “I'm not ready to take part in this diversion program unless and until the Supreme Court steps in or the legislature provides guidance. We just don't have any rules, ”said Torrez.
Now he's asking the US Attorney's Office to take up Kuvinka's case to get him into the federal system after losing confidence in the state system. "Honestly, I now have no confidence, even after he has been convicted, that he will be convicted and treated appropriately," said Torrez.
“The sentences we receive in the federal system are much longer and the fed system serves a higher percentage of its sentence. We cannot replace the state system with the Fed system, but in the right cases we can have a real impact on the community, "said John Anderson, US attorney for New Mexico District.
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According to Torrez, the U.S. Attorney's Office was useful in other cases. Namely Jackie Vigils. The main suspect, Luis Talamantes Romero, is in federal detention on drug charges. "We're going to take advantage of the fact that he's no different from Mr. Kuvinka, he's not going anywhere. He's not an imminent threat so we'll use this time to do whatever investigative work we need," said Torrez.
Torrez says there will be an announcement regarding the murder of Vigil's case very soon. Regarding Kuvinka's case, Torrez says it is an example of a flawed system. "I don't think it's safe. I don't think it makes a lot of sense," said Torrez. He says he'll send a letter to the Supreme Court next week setting out his problems. In the meantime, his Bureau filed an urgency motion to revoke Kuvinka's release conditions and hold him pending conviction.
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KRQE News 13 asked District Attorney Raul Torrez about the newly leaked lapel video of Jessica Kelley's arrest in 2016. Officials ask Kelley who the man who fled the scene was. She said she didn't know his name but she said they called him that was inaudible in the video. Torrez says this was a detail that was overlooked at the time police were focusing on the false confession. He says although they have known what was said in the video for years, they haven't identified who Kelley is referring to.