Child abuse charges dropped against members of New Mexico compound

Three of the five adults arrested at a New Mexico compound have had all charges against them dismissed. The remaining two adults are still being held on charges connected to the death of a 3-year-old boy. From Fox News:

Child abuse charges against Lucas Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj and Hujrah Wahhaj were dropped because prosecutors missed the 10-day limit for an evidentiary hearing to establish probable cause.

During a separate hearing Wednesday, Judge Jeff McElroy dismissed the same charges against fellow defendants, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Jany Leveille. However, charges leveled against them on Friday, in connection to the death of a missing 3-year-old boy, remained.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the boy’s father, and Leveille were charged with abuse of a child resulting in the death of a child and conspiracy to commit abuse of a child, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe announced.

Prosecutors, in an effort to keep all of the adult members of the compound behind bars, revealed Friday that they had discovered a hand-written document titled “Phases of a Terrorist Attack” at the camp. From the Associated Press:

A hand-written document called “Phases of a Terrorist Attack,” was seized from a remote New Mexico desert compound where authorities found 11 children living in wretched conditions, and later a dead 3-year-old boy, prosecutors said.

The document, cited in a court filing Friday by state prosecutors, included vague instructions for “the one-time terrorist” and mentioned an unnamed place called “the ideal attack site.”…

The documents referenced in Friday’s filing did not make clear whether there was an actual attack plan, or merely an aspirational desire for violence, and no terrorism-related charges have been filed.

Prosecutors said Monday the hand-written document was mentioned briefly at a hearing in which District Court Judge Sarah Backus rebuffed prosecutors, saying they “completely failed to establish its origin.”

CNN has previously reported on a letter delivered to the brother of three of the compound members encouraging him to die as a martyr:

Another suspect, Lucas Morten, delivered a letter to the brother of three of the suspects, instructing him to join them in New Mexico and “die as a martyr,” according to Lovelace.
The letter, written by one of two suspects, in part reads, “Allah says he will protect you always, so follow until he makes you die as a martyr as you wanted, and the only way is by joining the righteous (us).” The relative was advised to “take all your money out of the bank and bring your guns,” according to a copy of the letter.

Of course, if prosecutors have evidence this compound existed to plot terrorism, they need to present that, not rely on charges of child abuse which they fail to back up. At this point, it seems the only charges which might stick in this case are those related to the death of the little boy.

This local news report notes that the judge who dismissed the charges said the prosecutor’s office had no excuse for failing to meet the deadline. Was this just a mistake or did the DA have nothing to back up the charges?

David Strom 11:21 AM on September 27, 2022
David Strom 10:01 PM on September 26, 2022