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Jury: Ex-cop innocent

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By Don Pace

A former San Miguel County sheriff’s deputy was found not guilty Tuesday of an alleged attack on a man in his home.

With tears welling up in her eyes after the verdict, Bolivar said, “I would like to thank all the people who believed in me, including my family, my attorney, my biggest supporter (Sheriff) Benjie (Vigil), and God.”

The eight-woman, four-man jury reached its verdict after the two-day trial.

Bolivar, 29, was on trial for charges of aggravated battery against a household member causing great bodily harm, aggravated assault of a household member by use of a deadly weapon, and criminal damage to property under $1,000.

After the incident and during the two-day trial, Vigil never wavered in his support of his former deputy, calling the charges against Bolivar “false” and “ridiculous.” He fired her weeks after the incident, but attended the trial, chatting with her during breaks.

Witnesses on Monday described the former deputy as a jealous woman in a rage when she attacked the man, whom she considered her boyfriend.

The alleged victim, Adrian Martinez, testified during Bolivar’s jury trial that he was asleep in bed with another woman early in the morning of Sept. 20 when Bolivar walked in to wake him up. She was on duty, in uniform and armed with a gun.

Martinez testified that Bolivar, who had been working for the sheriff for two months when the incident happened, kicked him a few times, including in the back of the head.

He said Bolivar cursed at him and then got on top of him, straddling him at the waist. Then she started punching him in the face, he said.

The woman in bed with Martinez backed up his story when she took the witness stand. She also said Bolivar assured her that the problem was not her fault.

• • •

During opening statements, defense attorney Art Bustos argued that his client was defending herself from Martinez, who he said was allegedly  kicking at Bolivar from the bed. He said Martinez and Bolivar had been a couple until the day of the incident, although Martinez maintained that they broke up the year before.

Taking the witness stand, Bolivar testified she went to Martinez’s residence before driving to the state prison in Santa Fe on official business.

“I went to pick up some jewelry, to tell him good morning and to give him a good morning kiss,” Bolivar said.

Bolivar tearfully described entering the bedroom and finding Martinez naked with another woman.

“I was going to tell the man I loved good morning and give him a kiss,” Bolivar said, sobbing from the witness stand. “My heart just sank, and I couldn’t even breathe, and all my strength evaporated from my arms. I asked him what he was doing, I asked him how he could be doing this to us after three years of being together.”

Bolivar said that at the beginning of the incident, Martinez told her there was no relationship between the two of them.

“I said, ‘Are you serious? What are you talking about?’ I asked (the other woman) if she knew we were living together, and she said she didn’t, that he told her he was single,” Bolivar said.

Bolivar said she became frightened when Martinez started kicking at her, so she jumped on top of him to restrain him.

“We were wrestling. I was trying to keep him held down because he was trying to get up to hurt me. He was saying all these lies, he was saying that we were not even together. This was totally new to me, the man that I knew and loved had never talked to me that way. I didn’t know what he was saying, I didn’t know what he was doing,” Bolivar said. “I just got scared and got on top of him.”

Bolivar said that’s when Martinez got up and ran out the door. She said she followed him to the house of neighbor Phil Leger, a state police officer. Martinez started pounding on the door; no one answered.

“When I ran after him and I was pulling on his blanket, I was yelling at him, asking, ‘What have you done to us?’ I was so upset,” Bolivar said.

Attorney Bustos asked Bolivar if she had punched Martinez 20 to 30 times as the prosecution alleged.

“No, absolutely not,” Bolivar said.

Bustos then showed the jury closeup pictures of Bolivar’s hands. He pointed out there wasn’t a scratch on her knuckles or a chipped fingernail.   

“Did you punch him in the back of the head five times?” Bustos asked.

“No, no, I didn’t,” Bolivar responded.

“Did you ever touch the gun?’ Bustos asked.

“I didn’t even think about my gun at all,” Bolivar said.

• • •

When the prosecution led by Tom Clayton took its turn to question Bolivar, it pointed out she could have left the residence, that prior testimony had her hand on or near her service revolver, that Bolivar was much bigger than Martinez, she had prior military training, she took kick boxing classes at a local college, and she was angry after seeing Martinez naked with another woman.

Clayton asked, “On Saturday, when you went to see him (Martinez), he didn’t have any injuries, did he? No broken nose, none of this?

“No, even after he didn’t look like he had a broken nose,” Bolivar retorted.

Even though Dr. Lenore Herrera, the physician who examined Martinez six hours after the incident, was in court to testify as a prosecution witness, her notes may have played into defense hands.

Herrera said Martinez’s eyes were swollen and the injuries to the back of the neck were fairly significant.

But when prosecutor Donald Sears asked if the injuries from the struggle could have caused great bodily harm, Herrera said, “Possibly.”

Bustos asked Herrera what her notes reflected on the timeline of treatment of Martinez. She said the examination lasted seven minutes. She said there was no outward bleeding and that she didn’t recommend surgery.

The altercation began at about 8 a.m., but defense attorney Bustos said Martinez didn’t seek treatment until around 2:30 p.m., with the exam ending just minutes later. Bustos noted that Martinez was discharged a little more than four hours later. In earlier testimony, Martinez said he didn’t seek treatment right away because he couldn’t afford an ambulance.        

“The nose itself was fairly normal, the CAT Scan indicated he had a fracture, but didn’t involve any other bones in his face. So that would lead me to believe he was relatively stable,” Herrera said. “No orbital fractures are apparent, meaning the bones around the eye are intact.”

Herrera said there were also no abnormalities apparent on the skin, and the radiologist didn’t see any soft tissue swelling.

• • •

In closing arguments, Bustos said crime-scene photos didn’t show one drop of blood anywhere. Regarding the charge of great bodily harm, the attorney said the charge didn’t apply to this case.

“The most the state has been able to elicit from Dr. Herrera was that it was ‘possible’ for someone to sustain great bodily injury or death if they were kicked in the back of the neck,” Bustos said.

Bustos pointed out that Martinez didn’t seek medical treatment until six hours after the alleged fight.

Bustos said his client was an honorable woman.

“Ms. Bolivar is a person who has been in the military, received college degrees by going to school and working hard, and to believe 100 percent of the prosecution’s story would be fantasy,” Bustos said.

District Attorney Richard Flores said in an e-mail to the Optic that he was disappointed with the verdict.

“However, I am still a firm believer in our system. There may be times that I may not understand how or why a jury decided the way they did, but I will always respect their decisions.”

Flores said his office spoke with some of the jurors after the verdict and they may have sympathized with Bolivar because she found her alleged fiancé with another woman.

Flores said, “The state sought to draw a contrast between the victim and his injuries and the fact that Bolivar had no injuries. Ms. Bolivar also admitted that she was on duty as a deputy sheriff and armed with a .45-caliber handgun when she entered his residence unannounced.”

Flores said he had no regrets that the case was prosecuted to the fullest.