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Release granted for man accused in Taos hospital attacks

July 15, 2018

TAOS — A Taos man accused of battering his girlfriend, his newborn baby and a health care worker at Holy Cross Hospital has been released from a Lea County prison, where he had been held for nine months pending the resolution of several criminal cases.

Rafael Orozco, 24, who has a history of violent crimes, prompted a lockdown at Holy Cross in September 2016 after allegedly punching his girlfriend as she breastfed their newborn baby in front of a male doctor. Police say Orozco then grabbed the mother by the throat and slapped the baby, born only hours earlier.

Orozco fled the hospital but was arrested in Rio Arriba County a few months later.

About a month into his stay at the Taos County jail, he was accused of other crimes, such as obtaining Suboxone, an opioid medication, and pulling a fire alarm. Nearly a year later, he and his brother, Cristian Orozco, were charged with assaulting and threatening a guard.

In September, State District Court Judge Sarah Backus approved an order to incarcerate Rafael Orozco at the Lea County Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison near Hobbs, until his trial. His defense attorney recently filed a motion arguing for his release.

In a hearing last month on the motion, prosecutor Tim Hasson cited Orozco’s history of failing to appear in court and a series of charges filed against him in recent years.

While facing two cases in 2013 — one involving a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and another accusing him of battery against a New Mexico State Police officer — Orozco fled to Richfield City, Utah, where he was arrested on a warrant.

In 2015, Orozco pleaded guilty to one count in each case.

Despite the man’s history, Backus ruled in his favor and set his bond at $10,000.

Deputy District Attorney Ron Olsen, in an email, called Backus’ decision “unfortunate.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Taos News, a sister publication of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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