One of two defendants suspected of kidnapping, robbing and threatening to kill and bury a hitchhiker on County Road G in December was denied a bond reduction Wednesday in Montezuma County Court.
Towaoc residents Clint Laner, 28, and Keshaun Begay, 20, picked up the woman near Shiprock on Dec. 7, according to a Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office report. A pregnant woman, who Laner said is his wife, was a passenger.
The hitchhiker later told officers she thought Laner and Begay would take her home, off U.S. Highway 491 in New Mexico. Once the vehicle passed the Colorado border, however, she became concerned. According to the incident report, she said Laner threatened to kill her with a knife and bury her. She used her cellphone to call 911, and Begay allegedly broke her phone.
The pregnant passenger reportedly tried to persuade Laner to let the hitchhiker go as Laner drove on Road G. During a struggle with the hitchhiker, she “fell from the vehicle,” the report said, and could not recover her backpack and purse.
The sedan headed toward the Utah border.
Responding to the hitchhiker’s 911 call and a passerby who reported seeing a woman bleeding on the side of the road, an MCSO sergeant headed down Road G and found the maroon sedan parked in the westbound lane of the 9000 block, blocking traffic. He conducted a high-risk stop, and deputies soon arrived.
Laner exited the car and laid down on the ground as instructed.
Begay was found intoxicated in the back seat and was arrested. Officers reported finding three knives and a broken glass meth pipe on his body.
Laner, who was intoxicated, reportedly told officers to kill him. When he refused to get inside a patrol vehicle, the sergeant used his stun device twice on Laner. Laner proceeded to hit his head against the inside of the window, causing abrasions. He also was reportedly uncooperative at Southwest Memorial Hospital during an examination to clear him for jail at the Montezuma County Detention Center.
In court Wednesday, Laner’s public defender, Jonathan Jourdane, asked Judge JenniLynn Lawrence to lower his $75,000 bond to $25,000. He said Laner was willing to comply with GPS tracking and alcohol monitoring.
He said Laner has a 3-year-old daughter and a longtime girlfriend, who was pregnant, recently lost the baby. Jourdane said it has been difficult for Laner.
Jourdane argued that the case against Laner was in question. He said bodycam footage of the reporting witness showed she was intoxicated and the knives were found on Begay, not Laner.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Margeson argued that Laner has a history of noncompliance, including convictions for felony escape and vehicular eluding, and two menacing convictions. He also has had four warrants for failing to appear in the past 10 years and five convictions on protection order violations.
“The defendant is both a danger to the community and a flight risk,” Margeson said.
After reviewing Laner’s history, Lawrence noted that the escape and eluding convictions stemmed from far less serious charges than he now faced. She said she believed Laner presented a “significant flight risk” and “extraordinary risk” to the community.
She said the $75,000 bond was appropriate.
Laner then laughed from the video feed at the jail. Lawrence said he didn’t give her any assurance that he was taking the proceedings seriously, and she advised him to exercise his right to remain silent.
A detention deputy promptly escorted Laner out of the video cell.
The co-defendants will appear in court Feb. 13.
Laner is charged with second-degree kidnapping/robbery, a Class 2 felony; aggravated robbery with an accomplice with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or wound, a Class 3 felony; DUI; and resisting arrest.
Begay is charged with aggravated robbery with an accomplice armed with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or wound and possession of drug paraphernalia.