Court errs; man jailed in police chase released

Steve Garrison
Marshall Sinnig

FARMINGTON – A 25-year-old man arrested last week on suspicion he rammed his vehicle into a deputy's squad car during a police pursuit was released from jail due to a clerical error at the magistrate court.

Marshall Sinnig was charged in Aztec Magistrate Court with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated fleeing on allegations he led police on a high-speed chase near Bloomfield during the early-morning hours on March 14, according to a probable cause statement.

Sinnig was eventually arrested after his vehicle was disabled with traffic spikes near County Road 5483 east of Farmington, according to the statement. Sinnig allegedly fled on foot, but K-9 units quickly found him hiding in a culvert.

Two guns — a .38 special revolver and a 9 millimeter pistol — were found in the disabled vehicle, according to the statement.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on its Facebook page Monday that deputies also found a sawed-off AK-47 assault rifle and methamphetamine in Sinnig's vehicle. The sheriff's office said in the statement Sinnig "purposely put the public at risk for personal gain" by driving recklessly during the pursuit.

Sinnig was booked into the San Juan County Adult Detention Center after his arrest, but he was released without bond on March 16 because a magistrate judge failed to review evidence in his case within 48 hours, according to court records.

Sinnig could not be reached for comment at a phone number he provided the courts. He has not retained legal representation, according to court records.

Barry Massey, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said in an email Sinnig's case was not reviewed because clerks at the Aztec Magistrate Court failed to give his case file to a judge. Judge James Mosberger noticed the error during video appearances on March 16 and ordered Sinnig's release, as required under the rules of criminal procedure, according to Massey.

"The court clerks have met and will redouble their efforts to ensure that all needed files are provided to judges so they know what cases need probable cause reviews," Massey said.

Sheriff's office Capt. Brice Current said Sinnig, who is well known to deputies as a flight risk, showed no regard for the community's safety during last week's chase.

"It's frustrating, but more so, it's scary, for officers and the public," Current said.

He said he was skeptical that Sinnig would make a scheduled court appearance on Thursday.

Nearly a dozen defendants were released without bond in July after a magistrate court judge forgot to visit the jail and review defendants' case files during the Fourth of July weekend. Massey said then it was "human error" that caused the defendants to be released.

Defendants released without bond are still required to meet the basic conditions of release, which require they avoid contact with alleged victims and witnesses, remain within the county and not imbibe alcohol or illegal drugs.

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