Complaint Alleges APD Detective Suborned Perjury
Probe of Jaydon Chavez-Silver murder ‘horribly tainted’
Innocent suspects spent 10 months behind bars
UPDATED WITH COPY OF COMPLAINT POSTED ONLINE
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
The grandfather of a man who spent 10 months in jail after being falsely accused of the 2015 murder of Jaydon Chavez-Silver, alleges an Albuquerque police detective may have committed perjury, and threatened and coaxed witnesses to provide false testimony against his grandson.
The grandfather is Dennis Maez, a former Albuquerque police officer and retired U.S. Secret Service agent, who along with investigator Maurice Moya, on Monday filed a 23-page complaint against the detective, Jodi Gonterman, with the Civilian Police Oversight Agency.
Maez’s grandson, Donovan Maez, and another man, Christopher Cruz, were charged last year with murder in connection with the June 26, 2015, shooting of 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver. Silver was killed when shots were fired into a home at 1101 Nakomis Dr. NE. The charges against them were dropped on June 2, 2016, after the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office determined neither Maez or Cruz was involved in the shooting. By then they had spent 10 months in jail.
“Based upon the evidence in our possession, we do not believe it is appropriate for those cases to proceed at this time,” DA Kari Brandenburg said when her office dismissed the charges against Maez and Cruz. “The prosecutors assigned to this case take their ethical duties very seriously and to proceed to trial would not be in the best interests of justice.”
Dennis Maez and Moya spent hundreds of hours investigating the case on their own. They listened to recordings of Gonterman’s interviews with witnesses and reviewed her grand jury testimony. It was their work that led Brandenburg’s office to drop the murder charges against Donovan Maez and Cruz.
A spokesperson for the Albuquerque Police Department did not respond to an email from ABQ Free Press Weekly seeking comment for this story. An attempt to reach Jodi Gonterman directly was unsuccessful.
Now, Dennis Maez says Jodi Gonterman, who is wife of APD Major Tim Gonterman, should be investigated for perjury, subornation of perjury and intimidation of witnesses. She allegedly decided early on in the investigation that that Donovan Maez and Cruz were guilty and then got witnesses to say things that supported her theory, Dennis Maez said.
The entire command staff of APD’s homicide unit should be investigated for malfeasance or nonfeasance for approving Gonterman’s botched investigation, Maez said.
“Defense attorneys and investigators determined that Det. Gonterman supplied witnesses with a narrative and through intimidation coerced, and forced, by way of threats, witnesses to provide the false information in the narrative supplied by Det. Gonterman or the purpose of implicating Maez and Cruz,” the complaint says. “Det. Gonterman basically threatened witnesses that if they did not acquiesce and tell her what she wanted to hear, and demanded to hear, she would charge the witnesses as conspirators in the murder of Chavez-Silver.”
The complaint continues: “Not only did this investigation fall way short of any acceptable standard, the investigation was horribly tainted by the investigative techniques of intimidation, coercion and threats that were utilized.
“The entire chain of command in this instance was derelict in their responsibilities as supervisors from the first line sergeant who was responsible for overseeing homicide investigations that are conducted by APD, up to and including Chief of Police Gorden Eden who is ultimately responsible for all criminal investigation[s] and the actions of personnel within the Albuquerque Police Department,” the complaint says.
Failed to check alibis
The complaint alleges that Gonterman never checked out alibis for both Maez and Cruz, who said they were at a friend’s house playing video games at the time of Chavez-Silver’s murder. It turned out that those alibis were true. Maez was arrested on Aug. 14, 2015 and later interviewed by Gonterman.
“Maez told Det. Gonterman where he and Cruz were, and who they were with at the time of the murder of Chavez-Silver,” the complaint says. “Det. Gonterman assumed that Maez was lying and did not, within the 13 days from the time of Maez’s arrest to the date Det. Gonterman testified before the Grand Jury [Aug. 27, 2015], make any attempt to contact the witnesses Maez stated he was with at the time of the murder.
“Subsequent interviews with the individuals who Maez said he was with at the time Jaydon Chavez-Silver was murdered resulted in six individuals who all stated that they were with Maez and Cruz and nowhere near the scene of the murder.”
Putting words into witnesses’ mouths
The complaint alleged that Gonterman shaped witnesses’ testimony by suggesting to them what she wanted them to say. After hearing those “suggestions” from Gonterman, witnesses repeated her words, the complaint says.
On Aug. 11, 2015, Gonterman interviewed Nicholas Glenn, who told the detective that he overheard information that Maez was in the car from which shots were fired into the home. During the interview, Gonterman asked Glenn, “Did Donovan say something about, I think my bullet’s the one that killed Jaydon?” the complaint says.
Glenn responded: “I don’t know, he’s … I’m pretty …he’s, that what he was freaking out about, that he was scared that it was his bullet that hit Jaydon, and that’s what he was, something like that.”
The criminal complaint Gonterman filed charging Donovan Maez with murder says, “I contacted Citizen #1 [Glenn, who said] the following: Donovan Maez was freaking out because he thought his bullet was the one who killed Jaydon when he was in a car with people who shot Bernie’s house.”
But Maez’s complaint saays that Glenn’s testimony was worthless because it was coaxed.
“At no time during the interview did Glenn mention the word bullet until Det. Gonterman specifically asked him the question using the word bullet,” the complaint says. “The individual whom Glenn stated that Maez was having the conversation with that he overheard was later located by the defense team investigators and stated that the conversation Glenn said he overheard, or one similar to it, never took place.”
Ignoring exculpatory evidence
Maez’s complaint alleged that Gonterman ignored statements from witnesses who said Maez and Cruz weren’t near the scene of the shooting. One of those witnesses was Drew Dugger, who Gonternam interviewed on Aug. 14, 2015.
“During the course of the interview on four different occasions Dugger advised Det. Gonterman that he did not have any information that would implicate Donovan Maez and Christopher Cruz in the Chavez-Silver murder,” the complaint says. “On at least two different occasions during the interview Detective Gonterman threatened to put Dugger in jail if he didn’t implicate Cruz and Maez in the Chavez-Silver murder.”
After being threatened with jail, “Dugger began to make up a story that was very evident were lies implicating Maez and Cruz so he would not be arrested and put in jail,” the complaint says, adding, “Det. Gonterman then used this information that she supplied to Dugger in her grand jury testimony.”
When Dugger was later interviewed by Maez’s attorney, John Day, at the DA’s office during a pretrial investigation, Dugger said he had lied to Gonterman, the complaint says.
“When told what the interview pertained to, [Dugger] stated that all of the information he had provided to APD detectives were lies,” the complaint says. “Dugger stated that he lied because the Detective (Gonterman) had threatened, coerced him and agreed to make a deal with him to drop other felony charges if he implicated and testified against Donovan Maez and Christopher Cruz.”
On Aug. 20, 2015, Gonterman interviewed Glenn again regarding the information he had provided during the first interview on Aug. 11. During the second interview, “Glenn advised Det. Gonterman that he had lied about being at the Nakomis address at the time of the murder,” the complaint says. But seven days later, Gonterman testified to the grand jury that the witnesses against Maez and Cruz were credible, the complaint says.
Time and a life lost
Eventually, three others — Nicholas Gonzales, 17, Esias Madrid, 18, and Dominic Conyers — were arrested and charged in connection with Chavez-Silver’s murder. After the Chavez-Silver murder, Madrid allegedly shot and killed 18-year-old Arturo Villa-Castellanos.
“Without a doubt, if Madrid would have been taken into custody for the murder of Chavez-Silver within a reasonable time after [another witness] provided Det. Gonterman a description [of him], the Dec. 27, 2015 murder of of Arturo Villa may have been prevented,” the complaint says.
Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press Weekly. Reach him at email@example.com