Couple arrested for high speed pursuit in stolen vehicle, which they crashed
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FARMINGTON — A New Mexico couple is accused of abandoning a stolen SUV to steal a pickup truck, then leading law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit that ended with them crashing the vehicle into electrical equipment.
Marc Schwenk, 23, and Brianna Freitas-Jones, 21, are accused of 12 charges each in two separate cases.
Those charges include felony counts of vehicle theft, burglary of a vehicle, aggravated fleeing law enforcement, criminal damage to property and receiving or transferring a stolen motor vehicle, according to court records.
Schwenk and Freitas-Jones did not have legal representation on June 14.
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office investigation started around 6:10 a.m. on June 6 when a motorist reported his truck had been stolen at the Circle K gas station at 819 New Mexico Highway 516.
The owner, who left the pickup truck unlocked with the keys in the ignition, observed the vehicle being driven away from the gas station.
Video footage from the station showed a male wearing a baggy, dark-colored hoodie, t-shirt and blue jeans entering the pickup truck. Both vehicles then left the parking lot.
The driver of the stolen truck led area law enforcement on a pursuit from the Circle K gas station in Flora Vista, through Farmington and onto the La Plata Highway from West Main Street.
Farmington police were alerted that the red pickup truck stolen in Flora Vista was seen heading toward Farmington. It was spotted being driven erratically near the Animas Mall, according to the Statement of Probable Cause filed in court June 10.
A Farmington police officer following the red truck detailed in his statement erratic moves made by the driver, who was described as blowing through red lights downtown and driving toward oncoming traffic in the southbound lanes of La Plata Highway.
Officers hit speeds in excess of 90 MPH during the pursuit.
The stolen truck was located near the intersection of County Road 1990 and La Plata Highway, where it had crashed into a piece of utility company equipment, causing as much as $2,000 in damage. The occupants had fled the scene.
Freitas-Jones and Schwenk were located nearby and taken into custody.
Second vehicle found
During an investigation of an abandoned vehicle on June 10, investigators believed they found a white SUV abandoned by the same couple suspected of stealing the truck. It was found about 200 yards away from the same Circle K gas station where the truck theft had been reported.
A detective reviewed video footage from the gas station and saw a man matching the description of Schwenk exit the white SUV, enter then exit the station and then walk to the driver's side of the white SUV. The man in the security footage then walks up to the driver's-side of the pickup truck, enters the truck and drives away from the scene.
The SUV left the parking lot as well.
A shoe impression found outside the SUV was similar to an impression taken near the stolen pickup truck on June 9.
Some of the property found inside the abandoned SUV included a sawed-off shotgun, a syringe loaded with methamphetamine, shotgun shells, 11 empty syringes, two glass pipes, a grinder and other miscellaneous drug paraphernalia.
A notebook was found with Schwenk's name in it.
Schwenk has felony convictions for residential burglary and possession of a controlled substance.
Freitas-Jones had felony convictions for criminal damage to property and trafficking a controlled substance.
The San Juan County District Attorney's Office filed motions to hold the couple in jail as they await trial.
The hearings on the motions are set for the morning of June 19 in Aztec District Court.
Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for the morning of June 20 in Aztec Magistrate Court.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.