It’s been over two and a half years since Elijah Otero, 25, of Socorro was arrested on charges of deliberately running over and killing Alexander Hernandez in January of 2016. He is formally charged with First Degree Murder. By the time the case goes to trial in District Court on January 28, 2019, it will have been over three years.
Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Berry told The Chieftain delays and postponements are common in homicide cases, but a delay of three years is unusual.
He said a full year was taken up solely by motions for competency evaluations.
The latest postponement was requested by Otero’s attorney, Arturo B. Nieto of Santa Fe, “who wants to have his client evaluated, not for competency, but for his capacity to form a specific intent,” Berry said.
Berry said he has opposed the delays and postponements.
“We’re ready to go to trial,” he said.
The case stems from an incident on Jan. 13, 2016, in which, according to the criminal complaint submitted to Magistrate Court, Otero and Hernandez were allegedly arguing in Otero’s Ford Explorer which had pulled over on Highway 60 near Leseberg’s Auto.
As stated in the criminal complaint, Leseberg’s security camera video shows Otero getting out of the vehicle parked at the curb in front of the auto repair business and walking to the passenger side, where Hernandez got out and started walking across the street. Otero then drove to the Spring Street intersection, made a u-turn, and drove back down Highway 60 where his vehicle appears to go off onto the shoulder and running over Hernandez, whose back was to the vehicle.
The case will be heard in Seventh District Court by Judge Mercedes Murphy.
Hernandez was a senior in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at New Mexico Tech.
Otero was a former student at Tech.