LAS CRUCES - A man accused of spitting on a police officer and violating a domestic violence order was ordered to stay in jail by a judge on Friday.
Ruben Rincon, 29, is accused of one count of battery on a police officer and one count of violating a restraining order. According to an affidavit, Rincon returned to the home of a relative with a restraining order against him. When police were called and Rincon was detained, police said that he spit on an officer as they drove him to the detention center.
This is not the first time Rincon has faced a judge. Court records show that since 2010, Rincon has faced over 90 charges, about 60 of which were misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors.
Rincon's been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, misdemeanor battery, arson, aggravated stalking, escaping from police custody, shoplifting, breaking and entering, and desecration of a church. But the lion's share of charges against Rincon are trespassing and criminal trespassing.
Since Jan. 1, 2021, Rincon has been accused of trespassing or criminal trespassing 24 times. In that same period, Rincon has never been convicted nor has he pleaded guilty to any trespassing charges. Instead, Rincon's cases are either dismissed by prosecutors or, more commonly, Rincon is found incompetent to stand trial.
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"This is kind of what's been happening with him," 3rd Judicial District Attorney's Office Prosecutor Linzui Vergara said during a pretrial detention hearing on Friday.
Vergara pointed to the pattern of Rincon being arrested and charged, found incompetent to stand trial, and released. She said the pattern repeats itself even when the District Attorney's Office attempts to have Rincon committed to a mental health facility.
"We are, for some reason or another, not able to do that (and) he gets out back to committing crimes," she said.
The most recent attempt by prosecutors to have Rincon committed occurred in October 2021. During that hearing, prosecutors called six witnesses to testify on Rincon's behavior. They described actions such as verbal abuse, ghost boxing, screaming during the night and undressing in public places, among other things. Such instances were noted to have occurred within the previous week of their testimony.
Despite the witness testimony, 3rd Judicial District Judge Richard Jacquez said in October that prosecutors failed to meet the standard of proof required to keep Rincon in a mental institution against his own will.
Before that hearing, Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart attempted to take Rincon to the county's Crisis Triage Center. In that episode, Rincon was turned away because the Triage Center staff said there was no nurse on sight to assist him.
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While Jacquez told prosecutors that he would not have Rincon committed against his will, District Judge Richard Perea acknowledged that the standard of proof in Friday's hearing was different.
During the hearing, Perea was tasked with determining if prosecutors met the two-pronged standard required for pretrial detention. New Mexico state statute says that prosecutors must prove to a judge that a defendant is dangerous to the community and the alleged victim. Then, prosecutors must show that no conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of the community.
On Friday, Perea said that prosecutors met this threshold.
"Mr. Rincon cannot stay away from the alleged victim," Perea said. "He seems to find her and violate his order protection."
In the same breath, Perea acknowledged that Rincon's defense attorney, Public Defender Lara Smalls, had filed a motion to review Rincon's competency. For now, Rincon is awaiting trial at the Doña Ana County Detention Center.
Justin Garcia is a public safety reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at JEGarcia@lcsun-news.com or on Twitter @Just516garc.
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This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Man accused of dozens of trespassing charges in 2021 held in jail by judge's order