DA dropping murder charge in Santa Fe motel death, may revisit case

April 9, 2019

The District Attorney’s Office plans to drop a murder charge, at least temporarily, against a Santa Fe man accused of killing his girlfriend in a Cerrillos Road motel room.

Separate statements released Monday by the prosecutor’s office and the Santa Fe Police Department said an initial autopsy conducted Sunday by state medical investigators found no apparent signs of trauma and that the cause of death remains uncertain.

Santa Fe police arrested 34-year-old Jose Calabaza on Saturday after he called police around 9 a.m. to say he found girlfriend, 24-year-old Miranda Tenorio, unconscious and bleeding in the motel room, a police spokesman said Sunday.

Police officers who arrived at the Motel 6 at 3007 Cerrillos Road around 9 a.m. reported finding Tenorio dead, Deputy Chief Robert Vasquez said.

The department’s statement Monday said officers arrested Calabaza based on “information gathered at the scene and from witnesses during the initial investigation.”

Santa Fe Police Department spokesman Greg Gurule sent out a press release around 6:18 p.m. Monday saying that the District Attorney’s Office had advised the police department that the homicide charge had been dropped because the Office of the Medical Investigator could not determine how Tenorio died.

About two hours later, the District Attorney’s Office sent out a release saying it was the police department that had recommended dropping the charges “due to the preliminary medical findings of no apparent signs of trauma.” That release said a female Santa Fe police officer who was present during the autopsy “relayed her concerns for the lack of corroborating medical evidence… and recommended murder charges were not supported.”

Spokesman James Hallinan of the District Attorney’s Office said in that release that as a result, the office on Tuesday plans to file an order to dismiss the case against Calabaza “with the opportunity to refile charges if SFPD believes there is sufficient evidence to charge in the future.”

In a follow-up statement, Hallinan said Gurule’s press release “was not accurate and was missing important details about the decision that dismissal was appropriate.” Gurule did not respond to a call or e-mail seeking comment Monday evening.

The police department news release said officers are still investigating the case and asked that anyone with information about the incident contact the department at 505-955-5226.