Judge Murdock case referred to San Juan County

Stretch of U.S. 60 west of Mountainair where the fatal accident occurred. Photo by Thomas Campbell.

The case involving Seventh Judicial District Judge Shannon Murdock and the Sept. 21 vehicular death of bicyclist Billy Weinman and injury of his friend Karl Baumgartner will be reviewed by deputy district attorney, Brent Capshaw in the Eleventh Judicial District, covering San Juan County.

“That district felt they had a little bit of a conflict,” Capshaw told The Independent. “Politically it wouldn’t look right. So, they send it out of county to someone who’s a little more detached. I don’t know judge Murdock.”

He said he approved search warrants for Torrance County sheriff’s office “to go through the black box in that vehicle” and “[Murdock’s] cell phone to see if she was on it at the time.” He added, “I don’t think there was any indication that she was, but that’s just part of them being thorough.”

After reviewing the report from Torrance County sheriff’s office, Capshaw said he will notify them of his recommendation, which could range from felony charges to no charges at all. If any charges are filed, it would be in Murdock’s district, he said.

“They didn’t find any indication of her being under the influence,” Capshaw said, “that eliminates a lot of the more serious charges.”

And when asked by The Independent about possible criminal negligence, Capshaw said there is a higher standard than civil negligence and that it must “rise to the level of recklessness, a more conscious disregard for the safety of others.”

“I still don’t have a clear picture in my mind of how it happened,” Capshaw said. “There were three vehicles, she was third in line. There was a car coming the other way. There’s no shoulder on the road. … I don’t know. Some accidents are just unfortunate accidents.”

He said, “From what I recall, [Murdock] talked to [deputies] a little bit and at some point, asked for an attorney.”

Capshaw said that after receiving a report, he usually issues a recommendation within two weeks.

Several people have spoken to The Independent with concerns that the Torrance County sheriff office will not conduct an unbiased investigation.

Rebecca Anthony, Weinman’s ex-wife, said she sent a letter to the attorney general requesting that State Police lead the investigation of which they have been a part.

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