ALAMOSA — Last Monday, Oct. 2 District Judge Michael Gonzales revoked and instituted new bonds in cases against Angel Nieto, 31, who faces charges in multiple cases including a vehicular homicide case.
Judge Gonzales said the primary reason for his decision on Monday was community safety, as Nieto has allegedly violated protection orders against him. Law enforcement officers were prepared to testify to that effect last week, but the judge said he did not think it was necessary for him to hear additional information. The district attorney’s office had filed a motion to revoke bond on Nieto and offered to present testimony.
Nieto was not present for the hearing on Monday. Judge Gonzales said according to the court records, Nieto was aware of the hearing, and it was his responsibility to appear in court and to maintain contact with his attorney. Public Defender James Valenti has been representing Nieto.
Although Nieto told the judge in September he was not happy with his current representation, Judge Gonzales told him he could not pick and choose his court-appointed counsel, and the judge was not going to appoint another attorney, as he saw no evidence that Valenti was not adequately representing his client.
Valenti told the judge on Monday he had assumed his client was still in custody, but apparently he had bonded out, and he did not know if he was aware of Monday’s hearing.
Judge Gonzales said the court records indicated Nieto was notified of Monday’s hearing.
“It is the defendant’s responsibility to stay in contact with his attorney,” Gonzales said.
The judge added he had reviewed the DA’s motion to revoke bond.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for me to hear additional information, quite frankly,” Gonzales said. He added that he did not have to schedule the hearing but had done so to give Nieto the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to respond. However, the judge could have acted on the motion without a hearing, he said.
“I have serious safety concerns for those in the community impacted by Nieto,” Judge Gonzales said. “He continues to drink. He continues to violate protection orders.”
The judge said he did not know how Nieto could keep posting bond and continue behaving in a manner that was a danger to himself and others.
The judge revoked bond in the vehicular homicide case and instituted a new bond of $250,000 and revoked bond in a case dating to 2016 and instituted a $100,000 bond in that case.
The judge added that the new bonds were not intended to be punishment but were primarily based on the judge’s concerns about the danger Nieto poses to the community as evidenced in the allegations he had violated protection orders.
In the vehicular homicide case, Nieto is accused of causing an accident on Jan. 16 and then leaving his passenger, Marcie Quintana, 24, to die. Quintana was unconscious when emergency personnel responded to the accident and subsequently died at the hospital in Alamosa. Nieto was later apprehended.
Trials have been scheduled in Nieto’s Alamosa cases for this fall, but Judge Gonzales vacated the trial dates last Monday including the trial on the vehicular homicide charge, to which Nieto has pleaded not guilty.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the judge although he understood his reason for vacating the pending trial, the victim’s family was anxious to see the case proceed.
“I understand, but at this point I am vacating the trial,” Judge Gonzales said.