The suspect was first charged on July 18 and had his latest hearing Nov. 15

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FARMINGTON — Charges against an Aztec man accused of raping and groping a woman during a house party were dismissed by a magistrate judge last week.

Daniel Chesser, 30, was accused of two counts of criminal sexual penetration in the second degree and a misdemeanor count of criminal sexual contact.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office investigated the case. Chesser was accused of rape, forcing a woman to perform oral sex on him and groping one of her bare breasts, according to The Daily Times archives.

Aztec Magistrate Judge Trudy Reed-Chase presided over Chesser's preliminary hearing in Aztec Magistrate Court on Nov. 15, months since Chesser's first appearance on July 18, according to court records.

Court documents show Judge Reed-Chase determined that probable cause did not exist for all three counts during the hearing, and the case was discharged.

Steve Murphy, Chesser's attorney, said he believed Judge Reed-Chase did the appropriate thing by discharging the case.

Murphy cited a Sept. 7 lab report from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Forensic Laboratories which stated that Chesser's DNA was not found on swabs collected from the victim.

He believed it was a huge factor in Judge Reed-Chase's discharge of the criminal case.

"The scientific evidence just doesn't lie," Murphy said.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the DA's office requested the audio recording of the preliminary hearing because they are concerned about how Murphy's cross-examination of the victim was conducted, and they will seek to determine if anything inappropriate occurred during the cross-examination.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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