November 17, 2019
New Mexico Santa Fe

Mistrial declared in case man accused of marijuana robbery

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The former owners of a Santa Fe medical cannabis production company waited five years to see whether a man accused of holding them up and putting them out of business would be brought to justice.

Reyes Barelahas spent about a year in jail waiting to see if he’ll be exonerated or convicted.

But after a two-day trial and more than nine hours of deliberations spread over two days, the jurors told District Judge T. Glenn Ellington they could not agree.

Ellington asked the jury forewoman if more time could help resolve the deadlock, but after consulting her fellow jurors, the forewoman said no, prompting Ellington to declare a mistrial and reschedule a new trial — the third in this case — for May.

A judge called a mistrial midway through the first trial in October after a Santa Fe Police detective who was a witness in the case volunteered information on the stand the judge had already ruled could not be admitted.

Authorities say Barela, 32, is one of three gunman who burst into New Mexico Top Organics in 2013, held the two owners at gunpoint and stole about $30,000 worth of marijuana before fleeing in one of the victim’s SUV. Barela was the only person charged in the case.

In April, Barela is scheduled to stand trial in a separate case, in which he is charged with four counts of armed robbery and four count of conspiracy. The Rio Rancho man also was charged with armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery in a 2015 case that originated in Rio Rancho. Those charges were dismissed in May.

Among the issues that may have stymied jurors in this week’s trial was the fact that the two victims, Mark Baker and Peter Ferrera, testified they didn’t get a good look at three gunmen who raided their business because the robbers had their faces covered and ordered the men not to look at them. The defense argued there was no physical evidence tying Barela to the scene.

Prosecutors claim Barela confessed to the crime under questioning by police, but Barela’s defense attorneys argued the statement was coerced.

Mary Carmak-Altwiess, one of Barela’s two defense attorneys, said Thursday nothing prevent the state from continuing to hold trials in the case as long as jurors can’t reach a verdict, but, she added the state also can dismiss the charges or re-open plea negotiations.


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