Adrian Avila, 18, is accused of killing two people in separate 2020 and 2021 shootings. Despite evidence linking Avila to the crimes, he was released Wednesday on the condition he wears a GPS ankle monitor, according to authorities.
"This suspect is at the root of the gun violence we’re seeing in Albuquerque and the record number of homicides," APD Chief Medina said. "Our officers and detectives are doing everything possible to investigate and arrest the people who are terrorizing our neighborhoods, committing robberies and homicides with stolen guns."
Medina added that police are getting reports of "violent suspects cutting off their ankle monitors" who are "left to roam the streets until [police] rearrest them."
"This is beyond upsetting. This jeopardizes the safety of our community, including our officers," the police chief continued.
Last year, Avila turned himself in to police after a warrant for his arrest was issued in connection with the February 2021 murder of former corrections officer Elias Otero Garcia following a kidnapping and armed robbery. Avila was charged in December 2021, and another 18-year-old suspect, Anna Bella Dukes, was charged in January.
Homicide detectives determined at the time that "Dukes used social media to lure a man to meet with her in the early morning hours of Feb. 11, so Avila and another suspect could rob him."
The suspects, including Avila, allegedly dragged the victim out of his vehicle and demanded cash, jewelry and a gun. They then entered the vehicle, drove to the victim's home and demanded he call his older brother Otero and have him bring money and a gun outside, or they would shoot and kill the victim, according to police. When Otero emerged outside and threatened to shoot the suspects, Avila allegedly fired at Otero, "killing him in the street," police said.
Last week, Avila was charged in the August 2020 shooting death of Donnie Jacob Brandon. Avila is one of four suspects in the case.
An Albuquerque district judge released Avila pending trial in both cases based on a public safety assessment (PSA) tool that determines how dangerous a suspect awaiting trial is to society and whether the suspect is likely to appear in court, KOAT first reported.
Alicia Otero, the mother of murder victim Elias Otero Garcia, told KOAT she has been fighting for "legislation to change the Arnold tool, and it was tabled" and "not working."
"I feel another family is going to have to go through the pain that we're going through by losing their loved one also," she told the outlet. "Every day we wake up. I don't eat, I don't sleep. All I think about is what it took from us. He took my baby."
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez told the outlet that his office has already filed an appeal and is asking "that Mr. Avila be remanded into custody pending the outcome of not just one, but two separate murder cases."
Avila was deemed low risk by the Arnold tool, earning two out of seven points for criminal activity — one being the lowest risk and seven being the highest. He also scored well for trial attendance.
The Arnold tool, developed by a philanthropic investment fund, Arnold Ventures, "measures the likelihood that an individual will commit a new crime — particularly a violent crime — upon release, as well as the likelihood that he or she will appear at a future court hearing" based on a defendant's age, criminal history and current charges, according to the Judicial Branch of New Mexico.
The risk assessment considers nine factors related to a defendant’s age, criminal history and current charges that research has shown accurately predicts risk.