Two charged in relation to Tucumcari drowning

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom Newspapers

TUCUMCARI — Two Tucumcari residents have been accused of supplying alcohol to minors in connection with the May 19 drowning death of 12-year-old Augustine “Augie” Montiel.

Crystal L. Cochran, 18, and Fred Jaramillo III, 23, both of Tucumcari, were arraigned Tuesday in the Quay County Magistrate Court.

Both face a first-degree felony charge for the abuse of a child resulting in death, in addition to numerous other charges related to supplying alcohol to five minors.

On Friday, results of a toxicology report indicated the presence of alcohol in Montiel’s blood, said Tucumcari Police Chief Larry Ham.

“During the investigation,” according to a press release from Ham, “it was learned that the drowning was accidental, but due to contributing circumstances, charges have been filed on two adults in reference to providing alcohol to minors.”

Montiel, a Tucumcari fifth-grader, was found dead inside an irrigation canal along Charles Avenue nearly 24 hours after witnesses saw him get sucked in by an undercurrent while swimming with a friend.

Gabriel Jones, 15, was pulled out of the canal alive about 1 1/2 hours after the incident began.

Stella Chavez, the mother of Montiel, said she was relieved to hear of the arrests.
“Maybe it will get the message out there to others not to give kids alcohol,” she said.

Cochran was charged with 14 felony counts, Jaramillo 13.

Cochran faces a maximum sentence of life plus 42 years and Jaramillo a maximum of life plus 36 years if convicted.

In a statement released Tuesday by the Tucumcari Police Department, police said they learned “Montiel had, earlier that day, been at a party where alcohol had been served. The investigation revealed that several juveniles had been at a party and had been drinking alcohol.”

On Friday, Police Chief Larry Ham said he learned by phone from a pathologist at the Office of Medical Investigation that Montiel’s blood alcohol level was .13.

For adults the legal limit is .08, Ham said.

“That’s getting pretty close to double to what would be illegal for an adult,” Ham said.

Ham said his office has not yet received the official autopsy report, which would also include a written toxicology report. “We hope to receive the report by the end of next week,” he said.

Ham said police believe several teenagers pooled their money and got Jaramillo to buy alcohol for them. The teens went to Cochran’s apartment at Quay Apartments where they partied, the police chief said. Ham said Jaramillo did not drink with the juveniles.

Cochran and Jaramillo entered pleas of not guilty. Each was in Quay County Detention Center on Tuesday — Cochran on a $100,000 bond, Jaramillo $75,000.
A pre-trial hearing before Bruhn is expected in 10 days.

Attempts to contact the suspects’ family members on Tuesday were unsuccessful.