BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Despite a plea from the prosecutor in the case, Marion Loope, 35, of Los Alamos was released from custody Jan. 30 to stay with the victim, her mother during a sentencing hearing before First Judicial District Jason C. Lidyard.
Loope was convicted Jan 24 of misdemeanor battery against a household member charge following a jury trial before Judge Lidyard. The jury found Loope not guilty of a second more serious charge of aggravated battery against a household member with a deadly weapon.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Lidyard expressed his concern for the victim, Joann Temple’s safety.
“I think we all know what the jury did in this situation, the jury split the baby,” told Loope’s attorney Michael Jones. “I believe what Ms Temple had to say on the stand. I believe that the situation got out of hand. I want to know what can be imposed now to stop it getting out of hand.”
Loope was arrested by Los Alamos Police officers April 15, 2018 following an incident at Temple’s home during which Loope was accused of holding a knife to Temples’s throat during a prolonged argument.
Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist asked the Court to sentence Loope to 364 days in jail, suspend all except for the 290 days she had spent in jail since the incident, and place her on two years of probation. He asked that Loope be order to participate in the mandatory CYFD domestic violence offender class.
“I would also ask for additional treatment based on her history and essentially the facts of this case as well, your honor. I would also ask for an Aspen class at Los Alamos Family Council and some sort of mental health treatment,” Wahlquist said. “She needs something additional while she’s on probation to make sure that it addresses the issues that caused this whole scenario to unfold.”
Wahlquist discussed the circumstances surrounding a misdemeanor battery upon a police officer charge related to an incident during Loope’s incarceration at the Los Alamos Detention Center. He said he had been told there were also other issues in other facilities but that he could not see where she was charged. Wahlquist also gave details of a pending harassment case against Loope where she is accused of leaving voice mails and sending letters to the victim.
Judge asked about the alleged victim in the harassment case. Wahlquist said that person is Heather Ortega. He said his understanding was that for a time they were working together on a website.
“My understanding was that Ms Ortega’s son died. There is some dispute about how he died. My understanding is for a time they were working together and the relationship split. Since then Ms Loope has basically been sending out letters and leaving messages and threats to Ms Ortega about posting about how her son died, the circumstances of his death, also harassing Ms Ortega about some money that she raised. I believe it’s all surrounding the death of Heather Ortega’s son but what the exact relationship is, I do not know,” Wahlquist said. Judge Lidyard asked if there were any physical threats involved and Wahlquist responded not that he was aware of.
Asked about Loope’s criminal history, Wahlquist called it “quite significant” noting that Loope was held in pretrial detention on the current case due to that history. He said Loope had been convicted of two counts of battery on a peace officer and had multiple misdemeanor battery against a household member charges, which he said all surrounded Loope’s mother or her father.
Wahlquist said he spoke with Temple prior to the hearing and that she felt that she did not want to address the Court.
“But I think there are some concerns from a lot of people who care about Ms Temple and Ms Loope as well that together we’re going to end up seeing it again. My understanding is that there have been 27 odd calls just today from the defendant to Ms Temple. There have been multiple phone calls throughout this whole process where it gets very contentious. I received audio from the jail about some of those phone calls where it gets very heated with yelling back and forth,” Wahlquist said. “Based on Ms Loope’s history and based on people continuing to do what they’ve always done, if Ms Loope is released and allowed to go back to Ms Temple’s residence, something will happen, whether a felony or a misdemeanor, I don’t know, but something will happen and the police will be involved and I’ll have to be involved.”
He asked the Court that there be no contact between Loope and Temple.
“I don’t think Ms Temple wants that. I think she wants to have contact with Ms Loope – she is her daughter. Ms Temple wants to take care of Ms Loope but it’s clear from my point of view and from the history that that’s not going to go well,” Wahlquist said.
Judge Lidyard told Temple it would be really informative to him in returning the sentence to hear from her.
“You are the one in the greatest risk of facing something in the future with your daughter and I have no way of assessing that, in determining that, unless I hear from you and get some kind of understanding of your relationship and the history you have with your daughter. If you would be willing to speak to me and tell me something right now, I would much appreciate it he said.
Temple said it was only her respect for the Court and for Judge Lidyard in particular that she was willing to speak to him. She said she didn’t really want to, that she did not want to have any further contention with her daughter. She said she felt a certain amount of guilt about the situation Loope found herself yet at the same time there was an extensive history of mental health issues over the years.
Temple said she was starting anger management classes which she saw as a life-saving measure for herself or her daughter, as far as her not reacting to a lot of the contentious behavior she is confronted with often.
“I really do feel at this point that there needs to be some sort of psychiatric evaluation in terms of getting her on track with her medications. She probably needs some sort of a hospitalization in Las Vegas, either at the Forensic Unit or the general voluntary unit. I don’t think she’s going to meet that with enthusiasm but I really think that before she’s able to come home she needs to be re-established on her medicines,” Temple said.
Temple said she was willing to take Loope home with her Wednesday if she were to be released but that there had been some rather disturbing phone calls from Loope where her discussions and verbalizations had been “very impulsive-sounding”.
“She can’t seem to refrain from calling me a moron or an idiot. They’re quite disparaging frankly. I’m definitely working really hard not to react to things like that,” Temple said.
Temple told Judge Lidyard that if he decided Loope could go home Wednesday, she was ready for that and willing to work as hard as she could. Judge Lidyard asked where Loope she would end up going if she didn’t return to Temple’s house and Temple replied that Loope doesn’t really have resources to go anywhere else.
Temple told the Court that her home is large with two wings.
“I would like to be able to stipulate in terms of a safety plan that I be able to retreat to my bedroom and lock the door in lieu of calling the police,” she said.
Judge Lidyard said he worries that when people are in desperate need for law enforcement assistance, what happens is that after the situation calms down and charges arise and the person is in custody with a possible consequence of incarceration, that leads persons like Temple to not call the police in the future.
“They don’t want to see that happen again. I don’t want you running to your bedroom to lock the door in a dangerous situation, not calling for help. I’m concerned that something is going to happen,” he said.
Loope also addressed the Court.
“Everyone wants me to get my life back together which it was. I was applying for a Masters program at Highlands University when this occurred. They keep piling on more and more conditions. The state wants me to be in a program that doesn’t exist,” she said.
She said everyone expects her to get her things together but nobody Taken off her medication and if she stays much longer, Everyone expects her to get her things together but no one is giving her but no one is giving her the opportunity and that she is not an addict or drug abuser. She said everyone has a misconception of her that she’s trying to fight.
Judge Lidyard sentenced Loope time served and placed on supervised probation until May 15, 2020, ordered her to participate in the CYFD domestic violence offender class, attend therapy sessions with Temple, attend anger management classes, maintain her counseling and medications.