Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Ayala

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 26, 2017



         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the United States of America's Sentencing Memorandum filed on December 1, 2016 (Doc. 32), in which the government seeks an upward variance to a sentence of imprisonment of 96 months. Having considered all the factual and legal matters presented in the extensive record before this Court, as well as the arguments presented at the hearing on June 5, 2017, this Court has determined that an upward variance from the Sentencing Guidelines is justified; however, the Court will hear any final sentencing arguments from counsel at the sentencing hearing which the Court anticipates setting in Las Cruces when the Court travels there the week of August 21, 2017. The Court notes that the United States is requesting that the Defendant be sentenced to a term of 96 months' imprisonment, which would constitute an upward variance of 25 months above the high end of Defendant's sentencing guideline range of 57 to 71 months.


         On March 14, 2016, Defendant Candelario Ayala, Jr. pled guilty to a one-count Information, charging Felon in Possession of a Firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). Subsequently, the probation office prepared Defendant's presentence report (“PSR”). The PSR determined Defendant's base offense level to be 24. See United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual (“Guidelines”) § 2K2.1. Based on the total offense level of 21[1]and a criminal history category of IV, the PSR set forth Defendant's advisory Guidelines imprisonment range at 57 to 71 months.

         The government alleges that the following circumstances warrant an upward variance: On October 23, 2015, Defendant kidnapped his ex-girlfriend Lezlie Monreal[2] at gunpoint, and during this event Defendant fired one round from his gun into the floor of Ms. Monreal's residence. This incident started the investigation that resulted in Defendant being charged for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

         At the hearing on June 5, 2017, the parties fleshed out the circumstances surrounding the October 23, 2015 incident. The government claims after Defendant forced Ms. Monreal into his vehicle, a maroon Suburban, he drove her at gunpoint to a trailer in Canutillo, Texas where he sexually assaulted her. The government called the case agent, Special Agent Bryce Fankhauser of the FBI, to testify at length as to what he had learned from Ms. Monreal and other witnesses. Special Agent Fankhauser explained that on October 23, 2015, Ms. Monreal went to her mother Norma Avalos' home, located at 916 McKinley in Anthony, New Mexico (the “McKinley Residence”).[3] Defendant arrived at the residence with a gun shouting Ms. Monreal's name, pushed his way into the residence, and shot a round into the floor. Special Agent Fankhauser testified that the spent shell casing was never located because it hit a steel beam that runs laterally underneath the home and shattered into numerous pieces. There was a significant amount of debris and trash underneath the residence that would have concealed the pieces of the bullet. The same day, Special Agent Fankhauser took photographs of the scene, which show a small hole in the floor of the home surrounded by fresh particles of floorboard.

         Special Agent Fankhauser explained that Ms. Monreal's mother, fourteen-year-old sister, eleven-year-old cousin, and ten-year-old brother were inside the residence when Defendant fired his gun. Defendant forced Ms. Monreal into his Suburban, and drove her to Canutillo, Texas to a trailer where Defendant's brother, Sergio Ayala, and girlfriend, Crystal Ludwig, were staying (the “Canutillo Residence”). Defendant then sexually assaulted Ms. Monreal throughout the night of October 23, 2015.

         Early in the morning of October 24, 2015, FBI agents went to the home of Defendant's aunt, Juana Ayala, in an attempt to locate Defendant and Ms. Monreal. Ms. Ayala agreed to assist law enforcement by calling Defendant's cell phone. Ms. Monreal spoke with Ms. Ayala from Defendant's phone and told Ms. Ayala that she was not in danger, and that she did not wish to speak with the FBI because she was worried about her immigration status[4]. At the hearing, Ms. Ayala explained that when she asked Ms. Monreal if Defendant had kidnapped her, Ms. Monreal started laughing and said that he had not.

         Defendant called Ms. Ludwig to testify as to her memory of the night of October 23, 2015 and early morning hours of October 24, 2015. Ms. Ludwig testified that she and her boyfriend Mr. Ayala were in the yard of the Canutillo Residence when Ms. Monreal and Defendant arrived, and Ms. Monreal did not appear to be in any danger or to be there involuntarily. Later that night, Defendant and Ms. Monreal left together in the Suburban to pick up McDonald's and the four of them ate together. FBI agents contacted Ms. Ludwig early in the morning on October 24, 2015, and she agreed to go check on Ms. Monreal after learning agents were looking for Defendant. When Ms. Ludwig checked on Ms. Monreal in the trailer, Ms. Monreal stated she was fine and again stated she did not want to speak with law enforcement. Ms. Ludwig admitted that she was not actually inside the trailer with Defendant and Ms. Monreal.

         Later that morning, Defendant and Ms. Monreal left the Canutillo Residence. Defendant told Ms. Monreal to take his Suburban to Ms. Ayala's house because he knew his aunt was looking for him. Ms. Monreal left the Canutillo Residence in the Suburban, without Defendant. She did not drive to Ms. Ayala's house but instead went back to her mother's residence. Ms. Avalos called the police. Ms. Monreal first reported that she had not been in danger and that she had left with Defendant voluntarily. Ms. Monreal did not initially wish to speak with Special Agent Fankhauser. However, Special Agent Fankhauser testified that Ms. Monreal appeared fragile and frightened, was crying, and had visible bruising. He testified that she appeared to be withholding information, which is why he and other officers continued to press her with questions. At the hearing, Defendant called Deputy Sheriff Freddy Garcia of the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office, one of the officers who initially investigated the incident, and Deputy Garcia testified that Ms. Monreal first told officers she was fine and that nothing had happened between her and the Defendant. However, Deputy Garcia also explained that Ms. Monreal appeared to be very frightened and was visibly upset and crying as she was speaking to him. She eventually revealed that the night before she had been taken from her mother's home against her will, and she did not feel that she was free to leave. After she admitted that Defendant had taken her, she said that she was not going to tell officers anything else because he had told her that if she let them know where he was, or what happened, that he was going to kill her or her mother.

         Special Agent Fankhauser testified that upon further questioning by a female officer, Ms. Monreal began to discuss the incident in further detail. She elaborated that she previously said she was not in danger because she was scared, she had been in Defendant's presence when making those statements, and Defendant was still armed with his gun. Ms. Monreal also reiterated her concerns with her immigration status.

         Ms. Avalos provided a statement to Dona Ana County Detective Alfred Sanchez on October 24, 2015. Ms. Avalos' account of the incident was consistent with what Agent Fankhauser learned from Ms. Monreal. Ms. Avalos explained that after Defendant and Ms. Monreal got into the Suburban, Defendant drove about ten feet, stopped the car, returned to Ms. Avalos, and told her that he would “come back” and that “when they mess with me, nobody remains alive.” He then accelerated the vehicle and left.

         Special Agent Fankhauser further testified that Defendant had previously threatened violence to Ms. Monreal and her family. Ms. Monreal told Special Agent Fankhauser that she had seen Defendant with a gun several times before the October 23 incident. Additionally, many of the witnesses Special Agent Fankhauser spoke with reported that Defendant was often seen with a gun, and these witnesses appeared frightened to relay this information out of fear Defendant would find out. Special Agent Fankhauser explained that nearly every witness he spoke with throughout the course of his investigation was afraid of Defendant, who has a reputation in the Anthony, New Mexico community as a violent and retributive individual.

         On October 24, 2015, Ms. Monreal's family transported her to La Casa, which is a domestic violence shelter located in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Then, on October 27, 2015, Ms. Monreal sought treatment at La Piñon located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, which provides services to victims of domestic and sexual assault. Ms. Monreal was treated by Ashley Sveum, RN, who testified at the hearing on June 5, 2017. Nurse Sveum has been a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (“SANE”)[5] for approximately four years. Ms. Monreal told Nurse Sveum that she left her mother's home with Defendant because she was afraid he would hurt her mother. Once she and Defendant arrived at the Canutillo Residence, Defendant pulled her hair and kicked and punched her in her back and neck, and forced her to engage in oral sex. He spat on her face and she began to cry. He forced her to engage in various sexual acts throughout the night, and while it was happening, she was “praying for it to stop.”

         Nurse Sveum provided a SANE exam, which is a comprehensive exam available for a victim of a sexual assault and includes forensic evidence collection. Nurse Sveum stated that Ms. Monreal was calm and lucid and was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Nurse Sveum documented nineteen bruises on Ms. Monreal's body, including on her neck, arms, breast, thighs, and buttocks. Nurse Sveum determined that the bruises on Ms. Monreal's arms and neck were consistent with being grabbed forcefully and strangled as Ms. Monreal had described.

         Next, Nurse Sveum testified that Ms. Monreal had an abrasion on her vagina, which indicated she had been forced to engage in sexual intercourse. In fact, Nurse Sveum explained that she had rarely seen such type of vaginal lacerations on her patients, even after forcible sexual assaults. Nurse Sveum applied a type of dye called toluidine blue to the laceration. She explained that toluidine blue adheres to the skin only if there is in fact a laceration. The toluidine blue remained on Ms. Monreal's skin, showing a laceration consistent with the assault Ms. Monreal described.

         Defendant paints a different picture of what transpired from October 23 to October 24, 2015. While Defendant did not testify, his counsel presented evidence and argument that he contends support his position that Ms. Monreal left her residence willingly, and that the two later engaged in consensual sexual intercourse. Defendant called a number of witnesses to testify to this effect, primarily close family members and friends. Those witnesses also confirmed that Ms. Monreal was addicted to methamphetamine and that she injected methamphetamine intravenously. At the hearing, the Defendant attempted to illustrate Ms. Monreal as a heavy drinker and partier by introducing numerous photos from Ms. Monreal's Facebook account, which depict her drinking alcohol and gesturing with gang symbols.

         Defendant also introduced a surveillance video of the McDonald's drive-through from the night of October 23, 2015 to show that Ms. Monreal was not in any danger. The video shows two individuals in the front seat of Defendant's maroon Suburban, but the Court notes it is difficult to discern what ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.