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The judge did not make a decision during Aug. 14 hearing


AZTEC — An administrator for the Eleventh Judicial District Court said it was a mistake for a district judge to close a public hearing earlier this week regarding the possible release of a Crouch Mesa woman accused of abusing her teen daughter and boiling multiple puppies to death.

Martha Crouch, 54, is accused of felony counts of extreme cruelty to animals and child abuse along with a petty misdemeanor count of obstruction of investigation of child abuse, according to court records.

She is accused of abusing her 17-year-old daughter, killing multiple puppies by boiling them in a pot at her Crouch Mesa residence and eluding an investigation by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

Crouch’s previous July 25 hearing was open to the public.

A second hearing about possible conditions for release took place the afternoon of Aug. 14 at Aztec District Court, however it was closed to the public.

Attorneys for Crouch have tried to reduce the defendant's $50,000 cash at 10 percent bond including filing a motion to review her conditions of release in Aztec District Court.

A bailiff told The Daily Times District Judge Curtis Gurley set a closed hearing and a public hearing for Crouch to be heard at the same time, keeping the public from attending a public hearing.

Weldon Neff, the court executive officer for the 11th Judicial Court, told The Daily Times Judge Gurley viewed the cases as "inextricably" linked or impossible to separate and it was a mistake to close the public hearing.

Judge Gurley did not make a ruling on Aug. 14 on Crouch's conditions of release after an approximately 90-minute hearing, according to San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien.

O'Brien believed Judge Gurley might reach a decision sometime on Aug. 16. The judge had not issued an order on the morning of Aug. 16.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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