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State v. Turrietta
New Mexico Supreme Court
308 P.3d 964 (2013)
The state (plaintiff) charged Manuel Turrietta (defendant), a member of two gangs, the Bad Boys Krew (BBK) and Thugs Causing Kaos (TCK), with second-degree murder for the shooting death of Alberto Sandoval, a member of the rival West Side gang. The state filed a pretrial motion to clear the courtroom during testimony of four cooperating witnesses. The witnesses were former gang members, and the state feared current gang members might attend trial and intimidate the witnesses. Turrietta objected to closing the courtroom. The trial court held a hearing on the motion outside the jury’s presence. Two witnesses testified that they had received threats from their former gang. Security discovered a TCK etching outside the courtroom. The judge granted the state’s motion and cleared the courtroom of 30 people, excepting the parties, their representatives, their families, the press, and court staff. The jury convicted Turrietta. Turrietta appealed. The intermediate appellate court affirmed, holding that the trial court had a substantial reason for closing the courtroom. Turrietta appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Maes, C.J.)
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