By KAY MATTHEWS
On February 8, 2020, Antonio “Ike” DeVargas and Susie Schmitt held a press conference to announce that they would be starting a petition drive to empanel a grand jury to investigate the deaths of their children, Carmela DeVargas, and Rex Corcoran, caused by “misfeasance, malfeasance, and other crimes that may have been committed by their county government and its agency, the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility.”
Both Carmela and Rex died in November of 2019 due to the failure of medical staff and mistreatment by guards at the Detention Facility. At the press conference DeVargas told the crowd: “My efforts to get the New Mexico State Police to investigate what I consider to be the negligent homicide of my daughter, Carmela DeVargas, the death of Rex Corcoran, and many others at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility have been ignored. Therefore, it is imperative that the citizens of the City and County of Santa Fe exercise their constitutional rights to petition for the empanelment of a citizens’ Grand Jury to investigate misfeasance, malfeasance, and other crimes that may have been committed.”
The state’s constitution allows someone to impanel a grand jury with a petition “signed by not less than the greater of two hundred registered voters or two percent of the registered voters of the county.” DeVargas, Schmitt, family and friends have been circulating the petition for the past month, hoping to get 2,000 Santa Fe County signatories, but also circulating the petition throughout northern New Mexico, as many of those mistreated at the facility are from various norteño communities. Dozens of tort claims, criminal complaints, and a class action lawsuit (filed in 2017), Armendariz et al.-v.-Santa Fe County, have been filed documenting appalling conditions, lack of medical care, and abuse by guards at the Detention Facility.
Now, a month later, DeVargas and Schmitt with convene at Tiny’s Restaurant and Lounge, 1005 S. St. Francis Drive (southeast corner of Cerrillos and St. Francis Drive), on Saturday, March 7, 2:00 pm, to gather petitions and assess whether there is a sufficient number to empanel a grand jury. For those of you who have signed petitions but can’t make it to Santa Fe on Saturday, you can contact Ike DeVargas at 505 583-2514 or La Jicarita via email, email@example.com, or phone, 505 689-2200, and we will make arrangements to get the petitions.
On December 20, 2019, Richard Rosenstock, attorney for the DeVargas family, filed a Notice of Tort Claim for the Carmela DeVargas estate. Below the Tort Claim is a link to the Petition for Grand Jury Investigation.