A suspect pursued by the police remains in prison until his trial

ROSWELL NM – A man who allegedly committed a series of crimes, including leading police on a high-speed chase that ended when he ran over a van stolen from Tatum, will remain in jail until the end of his court case.

Judge Thomas Lilley granted a motion from the district attorney’s office to keep Joel Omar Contreras, 27, in pretrial detention during a hearing Tuesday at the Chaves County Courthouse.

Lilley sided with the prosecution, saying the allegations against Contreras, coupled with his criminal history, make him a danger to the public if released.

“I’m not sure that given this behavior and given his record in the other state-referenced case, any release conditions I could set could in any way remotely deal with this guy. of behavior and give me any assurance that our community would be safe,” Lilley said of his decision.

Contreras faces four counts of aggravated assault and one count of armed robbery each; aggravated while fleeing a law enforcement officer; criminal in possession of a firearm; removal; interference with communications; aggravated assault on a peace officer and interference with communications, during the June 20 crime wave.

In their motion, the prosecution stated that “Mr. Contreras’ actions are those of a repeat offender who is unable or unwilling to stop taking other people’s vehicles and threatening them with a gun.

The state argued that Contreras “must not be allowed access to guns, cars, and bystanders.”

Frank Rio, Contreras’ lawyer, argued that there was not enough evidence presented to show that his client posed a danger if released pending trial.

The charges against Contreras stem from the events of June 20 that began at 4:30 p.m. that day, when he allegedly took a van at gunpoint from his driver in the parking lot of a Roswell convenience store.

Police say he then drove to Loveless Park in the pickup, where he allegedly pointed a gun at three men, who then quickly drove off. He then forced a nearby woman into the van at gunpoint and drove off with her.

After police spotted the pickup, a chase began, sometimes reaching speeds of up to 100 mph.

During the chase, Contreras allegedly drove through several red lights and stop signs and forced other vehicles off the road.

Court records indicate that at one point, Contreras allegedly nearly ran into a police vehicle. However, the woman he took with him eventually grabbed the steering wheel and turned the pickup in a different direction, avoiding an accident.

The chase continued east on US 380, with Roswell Police and New Mexico State Police officers participating, along with Chaves and Lea County Deputies.

It ended over 70 miles in downtown Tatum after the pickup hit spike strips and crashed. Contreras and the woman were each treated before he was placed under arrest.