FBI Arrests 5 from New Mexico Compound on Firearms Charges
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Sep 01, 2018,
Sep 01, 2018, 5:05
Two other defendants are jailed on child abuse charges in the death of the boy whose remains were found.
"As great as it is to have these cases dismissed, we're not living in a fantasy land believing that they're necessarily over", said lawyer Gregory Dawkins, who represents Morton.
Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement officers made the arrests in the desert in northern New Mexico, where 11 children were found living in filth and the body of a 3-year-old named Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj boy was discovered.
Authorities have confirmed three of the defendants arrested on child neglect charges in the New Mexico compound case have been released from jail after a judge dismissed charges against them due to a missed deadline by prosecutors. The 3-year-old boy's remains were found at the compound days after the raid.
The combination of its lurid details - law enforcement officials said they found 11 children, as well as the body of Siraj Wahhaj's 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani - and the accusations made in court by prosecutors but cautioned against by a judge, that the defendants were Muslim extremists engaged in a terrorist training camp of sorts, brought the case to wide national prominence. Judge Emilio Chavez ruled that he could not keep the three in custody because prosecutors missed a 10-day deadline for a court hearing to establish probable cause for the neglect charges.
Defendant Hujrah Wahhaj reacts as she stands with her defense lawyer Marie Legrand Miller during a hearing in Taos County District Court in Taos County, New Mexico, on August 28, 2018.
District Judge Jeff McElroy criticized the office of Taos District Attorney Donald Gallegos for how the charges have been handled, citing a "complete failure to follow procedures in prosecuting the case".
In the case of the other three defendants, a judge ruled they could be released as early as today depending on what action prosecutors take.
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Attorneys for the three defendants who were released said they expected new indictments could come through a grand jury in September.
An aerial view of the compound in the desert area of Amalia, New Mexico. The two remained silent when asked to enter a plea on Wednesday.
"My staff has worked diligently, professionally and ethically and I am very proud of them", Gallegos wrote. The outlet reported that prosecutors said they found a handwritten document called "Phases of a Terrorist Attack" at the compound.
The boy was last seen leaving his Jonesboro, Georgia, home with his father, Siraj Wahhaj, in late November.
Court officials issued a release to defend the ruling, saying, "The state constitution provides that criminal defendants may be detained in jail pretrial only if prosecutors show by clear and convincing evidence that they are so unsafe that no release conditions will reasonably protect public safety".
Forensic medical investigators have not yet identified the cause and manner of the boy's death.
The suspects were arrested earlier this month during a raid of a New Mexico compound following an investigation into the disappearance of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a three-year-old who had been missing since December.