FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF VALENCIA COUNTY Cindy ML Mercer,
H. Balderas, Attorney General Maris Veidemanis, Assistant
Attorney General Santa Fe, NM for Appellee
Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Nina Lalevic,
Assistant Appellate Defender Santa Fe, NM for Appellant
Defendant Laverle Deans appeals from the denial of his motion
to dismiss on speedy trial grounds after conditionally
pleading guilty to one count of possession of child
pornography, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30-6A-3(A) (2007,
amended 2016). The alleged violation of Defendant's right
to a speedy trial arises in a unique context. During the
pendency of Defendant's case, the New Mexico Supreme
Court determined that multiple counts of possession of child
pornography (like those in Defendant's indictment) could
only be charged as one count. See State v. Olsson,
2014-NMSC-012, 324 P.3d 1230. Consequently, the district
court merged the twenty counts of possession of child
pornography Defendant faced into one count, dramatically
reducing Defendant's exposure from thirty years of
incarceration to eighteen months of incarceration. Because we
determine that Defendant's right to a speedy trial was
not violated, we affirm the district court.
For simplicity, we outline the pertinent timeline here based
on the testimony presented at the hearing on Defendant's
speedy trial motion, as well as the record and available
hearing transcripts. The only testimony offered at the speedy
trial hearing was that of Anne Keener, former assistant
district attorney who was the prosecutor on the case for most
relevant time periods. More details will be included in our
discussion as needed.
Line of Events
March 7, 2012: Defendant arrested and charged with possession
of child pornography.
March 29, 2012: Defendant indicted on twenty identical counts
of possession of child pornography based on his alleged
possession of twenty photographs, retrieved by law
enforcement from his computer.
April 11, 2012: Defendant arraigned and held in custody on
May 29, 2012: First judge reassignment.
July 20, 2012: Defense counsel, Peter Ortega, entered an
appearance and pro forma demand for speedy trial.
December 19, 2012: Pretrial conference held for trial set in
January 2013, at which the State requested a continuance.
Although it was not on the record, Ms. Keener testified that
defense counsel stipulated to the continuance. The State
represented that the case was not ready for trial and plea
negotiations were ongoing. The State further represented that
if a plea agreement was not reached, then a superseding
indictment with 900 additional counts of possession of child
pornography would be filed. The State requested a plea status
in thirty days to see if the case could be resolved. The
district court took the case off the trial docket and set a
hearing for January 30, 2013.
January 8, 2013: Defendant filed a pro se motion to dismiss
his attorney, Mr. Ortega. Defendant complained that he had
not yet been provided discovery, and that substitute counsel,
not Mr. Ortega, was present at the pretrial conference. Mr.
Ortega filed a motion to withdraw on January 30, 2013.
January 30, 2013: No transcript of this hearing exists in the
record. Ms. Keener testified that, at this hearing, the
district court denied Defendant's motion to dismiss his
attorney and counsel informed the court that plea
negotiations were still ongoing.
July 24, 2013: The State sent a written plea offer to defense
October 23, 2013: Defendant filed his second pro se motion to
dismiss his attorney, Mr. Ortega. Defendant complained that
Mr. Ortega was not ready for trial and had not hired an
investigator. Defendant further stated that Mr. Ortega had
used "unsavory tactics" to attempt to persuade him
to accept a plea, did not want to represent Defendant unless
he accepted the plea, and did not have Defendant's best
interests in mind.
December 9, 2013: Mr. Ortega filed his second motion to
withdraw, stating, inter alia, that Defendant "refuses
to heed" his advice.
December 11, 2013: Defense counsel filed a one-page motion to
dismiss for lack of a speedy trial.
December 31, 2013: Ms. Keener and Mr. Ortega met with
Defendant at jail to go over the plea offer. The plea
agreement called for Defendant to plead guilty to all twenty
counts, leaving a sentence of zero to thirty years of
incarceration up to the judge; in return, the State would not
pursue the additional counts. According to Ms. Keener,