Arson defendant back in jail

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Case stems from 2013 slaying

By Martin Salazar

One of the men accused of trying to cover up a murder by setting an apartment on fire last year is back in jail for violating his conditions of release.

Gary Esquibel, 31, was taken into custody and jailed on May 5. It was Esquibel’s attorney, Eugenio Mathis, who contacted authorities and notified them that Esquibel had not been home, and that his parents were worried about him.

Esquibel was out on house arrest while awaiting trial on charges of arson, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence stemming from the May 18, 2013, slaying of Angel Arroyo. Authorities have said that Esquibel helped alleged killer Joseph “Wicked” Montoya try to cover up the crime by helping burn down an apartment at 12th Street and San Francisco where Arroyo’s body was.

Esquibel had twice previously been accused of violating his conditions of release, but in both instances he was allowed to remain out of jail. Under the conditions of release imposed, Esquibel was supposed to be on house arrest except when working, meeting with his attorney or for medical emergencies.

On May 5, prosecutors filed a motion to review conditions of release and for a bench warrant, alleging that Esquibel had once again violated the conditions imposed on him.

In the motion, prosecutors state that Esquibel’s parents went out of town on May 3 and when they returned home, Esquibel wasn’t there. Esquibel has been living with his parents.

Esquibel didn’t return home that night, and his father went out looking for him at friends’ homes and other locations, but he had no success.

Worried about their son’s safety, Esquibel’s parents contacted Mathis, who in turn contacted the prosecutor handling the case.

Authorities were notified at 8 p.m. on May 4 that Esquibel had returned home.

“The case before the court is one of serious allegations, the burning of a human body to hide a homicide,” the prosecution’s motion states. “Notwithstanding the defendant’s parents’ concerns, along with those of his counsel, defendant’s actions reflect a clear disregard of his family, his counsel and the court’s order.”

Esquibel was booked into the San Miguel County Detention Center on May 5, and has remained there since, according to online jail records. The court records do not show that a hearing has been scheduled to determine whether Esquibel will once again be allowed out on house arrest.

Montoya is awaiting trial on an open count of murder, arson, tampering with evidence, conspiracy, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. A third man, Joshua Vigil, 26, was also charged in the case but is testifying for the prosecution. In exchange for his testimony, he is getting three years of probation.