(NM) Acquitted Defendant Wants Rifle Back


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Drizzt
July 10, 2003, 10:35 PM
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

July 4, 2003 Friday

SECTION: JOURNAL NORTH; Pg. 3

LENGTH: 399 words

HEADLINE: Acquitted Defendant Wants Rifle Back

BYLINE: Jeremy Pawloski Journal Staff Writer

BODY:
Man Charged In '01 Slaying

A Rio Arriba County man who was acquitted of second-degree murder after he shot and killed a family friend in February 2001 has sued several prosecutors and a sheriff's deputy for failing to return a rifle taken from his home during a search after the incident.

Alfredo DeVargas was convicted of a lesser charge stemming from the killing -- negligent use of a firearm, a petty misdemeanor.

During DeVargas' May 2002 sentencing for the misdemeanor charge in connection with the death of Lloyd Griego on the night of Feb. 17, 2001, Santa Fe District Judge Stephen Pfeffer warned DeVargas to "never carry a gun" again.

"We didn't release the rifle because our view was that the sentence that the judge imposed prohibited us from doing so," said First Judicial District Attorney Henry Valdez.

However, attorney Richard Rosenstock argued in his federal lawsuit that Pfeffer's judgment that DeVargas no longer own or possess firearms only covers the length of time that DeVargas was on probation -- in this case, a maximum of seven months.

During his trial, DeVargas argued that he shot Griego in self-defense because he thought Griego was reaching for a weapon in the dark during a drunken argument outside his home. But Griego's hands were empty, and no weapon was found on him or near his body.

DeVargas sued for the return of the 30/30 Winchester rifle that was seized in what his lawsuit claims was a warrantless search of his home by sheriff's deputies after the homicide.

The defendants, including prosecutors with the District Attorney's Office on the scene after Griego's shooting, "had no probable cause to believe the rifle, which had not recently been fired, was used in the alleged crime under investigation or that it was contraband."

The weapon had been given to DeVargas by his father when he was a boy, according to the suit.

"The rifle has great sentimental value to plaintiff, and he wanted to keep it in his family," reads the suit.

The .22-caliber pistol used in Griego's shooting also was seized during the search.

Officials with the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

According to the suit, DeVargas' attorney wrote a letter to the District Attorney's Office saying that DeVargas wanted the rifle returned so he could give it to his son or another family member.

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