DWI homicide suspect to be released from county jail

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The man accused of killing a woman while driving drunk will be released from jail after a judge denied a motion to hold him without bond.

Jasper Sala, 26, is accused of killing 23-year-old Valerie Foster by striking her with his GMC pickup truck in the early morning of June 16 in the area of Reagan Street and Bloomfield Highway.

Foster was the mother of three children, according to her mother Charlene Lewis.

The defendant told police he got blackout drunk in Counselor and when he woke up in Farmington his vehicle didn't work.

Sala, 26, is accused of homicide by vehicle (DWI), knowingly leaving the scene of an accident, duty to give information and render aid and immediate notice of accidents, according to court documents.

Mark Curnutt, Sala's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

The San Juan County District Attorney's Office filed a motion on June 17 to keep Sala at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center without bond, stating he was a danger to the community.

Jasper Sala

District Court Judge Daylene Marsh denied the motion during a June 22 hearing in Aztec District Court, according to court records.

In the denial, Judge Marsh wrote the prosecution stated Sala is a danger when intoxicated and the court can address this with an alcohol ankle monitor (SCRAM bracelet) and house arrest.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the decision was disappointing, but the judge has her own set of rules to operate by.

New rules were issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court in Summer 2017 regarding pretrial detention and release of defendants. 

The rules were part of a comprehensive bail reform effort, which some critics argued released too many defendants from custody while they awaited trial.

Sala is required to wear an alcohol ankle monitor and a GPS bracelet and is on house arrest, according to court documents.

A GPS perimeter will be established around the residence to ensure he remains on house arrest.

He cannot consume alcohol or be around anyone consuming alcohol, and all alcohol was required to be removed from the residence prior to Sala's release.

His preliminary hearing is set for July 1 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Sala remained incarcerated on the afternoon of June 25 in the county jail.

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

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