Cops and courts: Airman acquitted of sex charges

A Cannon airman was acquitted of charges earlier this month that in 2003 he had sex with a 14-year-old girl and gave her alcohol.

Matthew Quigley, 25, was accused criminal sexual penetration of a minor, a fourth-degree felony, and giving or selling alcohol to a minor, a misdemeanor.

The jury found him innocent after 15 to 20 minutes deliberation.

Quigley’s attorney, Michael Garrett, said his client was exonerated because he had been falsely accused.

“My client was innocent, and in addition to being innocent, the accusing witness was telling a lie to protect someone else,” Garrett said. “Our client, from the inception maintained his innocence, and he took the stand and testified.”

Garrett said a police officer testified during the trial to support the claim the accuser was telling a lie.

In conversations after the case, jurors said they couldn’t get past the reasonable doubt standard based on testimony only, said senior trial prosecutor John Nilan, who prosecuted the case for the state.

Nilan said two months passed between the alleged crimes and the beginning of the investigation, so there was no forensic evidence available for the trial.

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A wrongful death suit against Clovis Municipal Schools was thrown out this month by the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
The suit was filed on the behalf of Sarah Renee Upton, 14, who died of an asthma attack Aug. 30, 1999, at Gattis Junior High School.

“This case does not involve a building defect,” according to the written opinion of Judge James Wechsler. “Therefore, if plaintiffs are to succeed, they must demonstrate that their daughter’s death resulted from a dangerous or unsafe condition on the premises that created a potential risk to the general public.”

According to the mother of the victim, school officials were notified that Upton suffered from asthma attacks, but a substitute physical education teacher required her daughter to continue exercising after she complained of breathing trouble.

Shortly after the physical education class, she went to another class where she collapsed onto her desk and later died, the lawsuit says. Approximately 15 minutes lapsed between Upton’s collapse in class and when school officials called 911, the appeal decision shows.

In the New Mexico tort claims act, governmental agencies are immune from lawsuits such as this unless the death was related to the maintenance of the facility, according to the appeal decision.

The decision affirmed a lower court’s decision to throw out the suit.

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The local Meth Watch program received $40,000 in grant money from the consumer Healthcare Products Association, according to a press release from District Attorney Matthew Chandler.

The grant money will be used to further the program in the 9th Judicial District, and a percentage of the money will be set aside for any other agency outside the district that would like to implement the program, the press release said.

The program was introduced to the 9th Judicial District in January.

Meth Watch is designed to deter suspicious sales and thefts of pseudoephedrine-based medicines and other products that can be used to illegally make methamphetamine.

Cops and Courts is compiled by CNJ staff writer David Irvin. He can be contacted at 763-6991 or: