Mother of AHS shooting victim talks about lawsuits against Aztec schools, police
The two lawsuits are pending in state district court
FARMINGTON — The mother of Casey Jordan Marquez was disgusted as she found text messages between her slain daughter and a former Aztec High School teacher, which prompted one of two lawsuits she has filed against the district.
Jamie Lattin also believes the 2017 Aztec High School shooting could have possibly been prevented if district officials and law enforcement had adequately investigated the threat to AHS properly.
Marquez's mother recently filed the second lawsuit against the Aztec Municipal School District and the first against the Aztec Police Department, seeking damages for their alleged negligence in the death of her daughter from the 2017 Aztec High School shooting.
Marquez and Francisco "Paco" Fernandez, both 17, were killed during the Dec. 7, 2017, early morning shooting.
Lattin spoke to The Daily Times about the lawsuits while the wrongful death lawsuit was being finalized and prepared to be submitted to the state district court.
The Sept. 23 civil lawsuit against Aztec schools and Superintendent Kirk Carpenter alleged they were negligent in the sexual harassment and abuse Marquez suffered from former Aztec high school teacher James Coulter.
Coulter is accused in a separate case of two counts of criminal sexual penetration from two incidents of criminal sexual penetration of a 17-year-old female student between November 2015 and December 2015 at Aztec High School, and also at Coulter's residence, according to The Daily Times archives.
Following Casey's death, it took months before Lattin was able to review the contents of her daughter's phone.
'I think it's real twisted'
Lattin let out an "ewww" as she described how she felt reading the alleged messages between Coulter and Marquez, pondering why a now 33-year-old man was wondering where her daughter was at 8:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.
"At one point, I could see where Casey was flattered, having an older man be attracted to you," Lattin said.
The mother could see that Coulter had convinced himself that he would be with Marquez after she graduated.
Lattin also believes Carpenter didn't properly handle previous investigations into Coulter involving other female students.
"I think it's real twisted," Lattin said about Carpenter's education licenses not being removed.
Former New Mexico Public Education Secretary Dr. Karen Trujillo agreed in Spring 2019 to dismiss the notice of contemplated action and the amended notice of contemplated action filed against him last year.
Carpenter was previously accused of failing to report inappropriate contact between Coulter and a female student during the 2016-2017 school year, according to The Daily Times archives.
For the wrongful death lawsuit, Lattin believes the complaint shows actions could have been taken to prevent the shooting.
She added it appears nothing much has changed on the Aztec high campus since the shooting.
The complaint alleges Aztec schools failed to act on specific things which could have stopped the shooting, and Aztec police failed to forward information from an FBI bulletin about the shooter, William Atchison, to the school resource officer and Aztec schools.
"You can still walk on that campus no problem, you can still enter the back doors, the rear exits, no problem," Lattin said.
She hopes filing the lawsuit will help preventing something like the high school shooting from happening again.
"The school is still wide open, and nothing had changed," Lattin said. "What's stopping someone from doing it today?"
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at email@example.com.
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Mother of Casey Marquez: Daughter was sexually abused by former Aztec High teacher