Church Records Issue in Case

By Rory McClannahan
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
November 20, 1997

Carabajal Charged In Priest's Death

Lawyers for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and the Servants of the Paraclete argued in state District Court on Wednesday that church records should not be released as part of Dennis Carabajal's murder defense.

Carabajal is accused of killing retired priest Armando Martinez in May and leaving his nude body by the side of N.M. 4 in the Jemez Mountains.

Carabajal's attorneys, Jeff Rein and Judy Reed, argued during a motion Wednesday in 13th Judicial District Court in Bernalillo that all church records pertaining to Martinez are needed to provide Carabajal with a fair trial.

Carabajal has said he reacted violently after the priest made a sexual advance toward him, court records state.

Martinez was suspended from his ministerial duties in 1993 after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor boy several years before. He retired in 1994.

"It's a line we have to proceed on in order to provide a zealous defense for Mr. Carabajal," Rein said.

Charles Reynolds, an attorney for the Archdiocese, argued the documents shouldn't be released due to the confidentiality of church and patient records as well protection under the First Amendment.

"We do not believe that state entities have the right to subpoena from church entities," Reynolds said.

Servants of the Paraclete attorney Alan Konrad told the court that the retreat for troubled priests had offered inspection of its records to the defense and prosecution. Martinez spent time at the Jemez Springs retreat during the late 1980s.

Konrad said no records could copied or taken. Another stipulation was that both parties be present during the inspection. The prosecution refused to participate, Konrad said, meaning nobody got to see the documents. He added the papers didn't contain anything pertaining to the case.

Charlie Brown, assistant district attorney, argued the defense was on a "fishing expedition," looking for "justification where there was none."

"You can't just come in and talk about what a victim did 20 years ago and use that as a defense," Brown said.

District Court Judge Kenneth Brown said he would rule on the motion in the next few days.

The defense also introduced motions asking the judge to rule Carabajal's initial statement to investigators inadmissible. Defense attorneys argued Carabajal had taken a large dose of Librium, an anti-anxiety drug, before the interview and was unable to make decisions.

The defense also argued that investigators coerced a witness to choose Carabajal's picture from a photo array.

Judge Brown denied both motions.

No date has been set for Carabajal's trial.


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