Man charged in high-speed chase near Blanco

Steve Garrison
Steve Casias

FARMINGTON — A 38-year-old man made an initial appearance in court Friday on allegations he threatened the lives of several deputies during a high-speed chase Wednesday in San Juan County.

Steve Casias was charged Thursday in Aztec Magistrate Court with one count of aggravated battery upon a peace officer, four counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and aggravated fleeing, among other, lesser offenses.

Judge James Mosberger set Casias' bail Friday at $100,000 cash-only.

He told Casias he can reconsider the bond at a preliminary examination hearing scheduled for Thursday, "but I need you to give me some really good reasons to do so."

Casias has not yet retained legal representation.

Two detectives with the San Juan County Sheriff's Office were investigating a stolen camper Wednesday afternoon at No. 76 County Road 4903 near Bloomfield when a man arrived at the residence in a brown Chevrolet pickup truck, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

The detectives ordered the man, later identified as Casias, to exit the truck, but he instead fled the scene by crashing the vehicle through several fences and escaping onto County Road 4903, almost striking the detectives in the process.

A deputy began to pursue the truck as it turned east onto U.S. Highway 64. The vehicle crashed outside Blanco Elementary School at U.S. Highway 64 and County Road 4599, but continued east and turned north onto New Mexico Highway 511.

The pickup truck struck a black passenger car on New Mexico Highway 511 and came to a stop a quarter-mile north on the state road.

Casias briefly exited the vehicle, but then jumped back into the driver's seat and sped off down New Mexico Highway 511 at speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour with a damaged tire, the affidavit states.

The pickup truck eventually broke down near Navajo Dam, and officers used stun guns to arrest Casias.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.