New Mexico compound suspects’ attorneys file to have all charges dropped
NEW MEXICO — The defense attorneys for all five suspects who were arrested after emaciated children were found in a New Mexico compound, filed motions to dismiss all charges Thursday.
The lawyers for Siraj Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj, Hujrah Wahhaj, Lucas Morten and Jany Leveille filed the motions, stating that their clients have been in custody longer than 10 days without a preliminary hearing, which is against New Mexico state law.
The five defendants had first appeared in court on August 8, “triggering the time limits” that a hearing be held no later than 10 days if the defendant is in custody, according to the lawyers’ motions filed in Taos District Court.
“No such preliminary hearing has been held,” wrote the attorney for Siraj Wahhaj. “Under the 10-day rule, the final day to hold the preliminary hearing was August 22, 2018.”
Some of the lawyers noted that the preliminary hearing for their clients has been set for September 28.
Citing the 10-day rule, the attorneys requested that the cases against their clients be dismissed and that they be released.
There is typically a 15-day period for a response, according to the district court rules of criminal procedure governing motions.
Georgia extradition dropped
In the meantime, Siraj Wahhaj, one of the defendants, will not be extradited to Georgia to face a custodial interference charge, according to authorities.
Wahhaj is accused of abducting his 3-year-old son Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj from Clayton County, Georgia late last year. Abdul-Ghani’s mother reported him missing when Wahhaj didn’t bring him back after a trip to the park. The boy’s remains were discovered days after police first raided the makeshift complex on August 3.
The Clayton County District Attorney’s office has decided not to extradite Wahhaj, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a document filed this week in Taos County Magistrate Court. The sheriff’s office did not say why Georgia authorities will not extradite Wahhaj.
Clayton County authorities have also released their hold of Wahhaj, authorities said.
The felony criminal complaint against Wahhaj, who is being held on child abuse charges in the Taos County Adult Detention Center, was dismissed during a hearing Thursday in Taos County Magistrates Court. He still faces felony abuse charges in District court.
Wahhaj could be eligible for bail along with three other defendants who remain in custody now that his felony charge in Magistrate court has been dismissed, court officials said. One suspect is in federal immigration custody.
New Mexico authorities suspected the boy and his father were at the compound after learning about the abduction in May, according to the Taos County sheriff, but didn’t have enough evidence for a search warrant.
But that changed when authorities received a tip about possible starving children on the compound. Abdul-Ghani was not among the 11 malnourished children found living in a squalid trailer.
Funeral held for boy in Georgia
New Mexico prosecutors said Abdul-Ghani — who, according to his mother, suffered from seizures and needed constant medical attention — died in a religious ritual meant to cast out demonic spirits.
After his death, Abdul-Ghani’s body was washed several times and wrapped in sheets, prosecutors said. His remains were found in a tunnel on the compound.
The family believed the boy would return as Jesus four months later and tell his family which of society’s institutions were corrupt and needed to be done away with, a witness said.
A funeral was held Thursday in Atlanta for Abdul-Ghani, according to Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, spokesperson for the boy’s grandfather, Imam Siraj Wahhaj.