CLOVIS, NM (KCBD) - A Clovis Police Officer stands indicted for homicide. On Friday, a Curry County Grand Jury decided that officer Stephen Gallegos, 23 should stand trial for a November 2010 crash that killed Mary Castillo, 56.
Castillo and Edith Payton, 40 of Clovis were brought to Lubbock after investigators say Gallegos ran a stop sign and crashed into their vehicle. Castillo died the next day. Doctors later released Payton with multiple bone fractures.
If convicted, Gallegos faces nine-years in prison. He is currently on paid administrative leave.
Clovis Police released this statement Friday: On Friday, January 21st, 2011 a Curry County Grand Jury found probable cause and returned a "True Bill" indicting Clovis Police Officer Stephen Gallegos on charges of Homicide by Motor Vehicle and Great Bodily Harm by Motor Vehicle stemming from the November 17, 2010 motor vehicle crash that claimed the life of passenger Mary Castillo and injured driver Edith Payton. Officer Stephen Gallegos was driving a Clovis Police car on-duty at the time of the crash.
Officer Stephen Gallegos has been placed on paid Administrative Leave in accordance with department and city policy pending the outcome of the judicial process. Officer Gallegos retains both legal and personnel due process rights.
No further comment will be made by the department in this matter allowing the legal process to take its course within the judicial system.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler released the statement Friday: Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler announced today that a grand jury has found probable cause that Steven Gallegos, age 23, committed Homicide by Vehicle (Unlawful Operation of a Motor Vehicle), a third degree felony causing death, and Great Bodily Harm by Vehicle (Unlawful Operation of a Motor Vehicle), a third degree felony.
The incident stems from a fatal crash that occurred in Clovis, NM on November 17, 2010. It is alleged that at approximately 9:40 p.m., Steven Gallegos was driving a marked police car east bound on Grand Street in Clovis at a speed of approximately 56 mph in a posted 35 mph zone. As Gallegos' approached the intersection of Grand and Sycamore, the officer ran a stop sign and crashed into a vehicle occupied by Edith Payton and Mary Castillo. Gallegos, Payton, and Castillo were all transported to the Clovis hospital for treatment. Steven Gallegos was treated and released with minor injuries. Edith Payton was transported to Lubbock for medical attention, where she was released several days later with multiple bone fractures. The passenger, Mary Castillo, was pronounced dead the following day after unsuccessful emergency surgery.
The grand jury found, under law, that Gallegos was operating his vehicle in an unlawful manner by driving recklessly. As defined by law, a person who drives with the willful disregard for public safety of others and at a speed or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any person is guilty of reckless driving.
If Gallegos is convicted of the charges he faces a maximum of six years for Homicide by Vehicle and three years for Great Bodily Harm by Vehicle, for a total maximum exposure of nine years.
District Attorney Matthew Chandler stated, "The district attorney's office presented all of the facts from the Clovis Police Department's investigation to a convened grand jury, and the grand jurors found probable cause in this matter. Due to the pending criminal litigation, the state will not make any further comment on this matter."
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