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Driver in fatal crash getting death threats

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By Karl Moffatt
Las Vegas Optic

Bail was set at $100,000 cash or  $200,000 property for Wayne Lovato on Monday after he was arraigned on child abuse resulting in death and other charges stemming from an April wreck on Interstate-25 that left two teens dead and five others injured.

The charges come on the heels on an earlier preliminary hearing during which testimony was heard in the case that will now be tried in adult court, where adult sanctions will be pursued if Lovato is convicted.

District Judge Abigail Aragon in setting the bond agreed to allow the court to accept 10-percent cash or a bond from a bail company.

Lovato’s attorney, Tomas Benavidez, had requested that Lovato be placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring and other conditions , explaining that the slightly built teen is receiving threats and being intimidated by others at the San Miguel County Detention Center where he is being held. Lovato was transferred from juvenile detention facilities in Santa Fe and Taos to local custody to await trial after turning 18 in jail. Benavidez said other inmates have run a finger across their throats while looking at Lovato. Another asked in a low voice how well Lovato’s been sleeping at night. And someone else has posted on Facebook that he wanted to be put in protective custody with Lovato just so he could “take him out,” Benavidez said in arguing for release.

But prosecutor Joseph Ulibarri asked for continued detention because Lovato had already shown a willingness to flee by leaving the scene of the early morning crash of April 6, 2013 on I-25 near Tecolote.

The wreck killed Kayla Martinez, 14, of Las Vegas and Aleandra Sanchez, 12, of Villanueva and seriously injured Briana Sanchez, 13, and Reyes Rubio, 21, both of Las Vegas. Three others were also injured.

Ulibarri also argued that Lovato was deceptive in claiming that he wasn’t driving, although most of his passengers have told police that  he was behind the wheel.

Ulibarri said in defense of the jail that administrators were taking every precaution to make sure Lovato was not being preyed upon in the jail but that they couldn’t “keep him in a bubble.”