The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

Sheriff's Corner

Sheriff department plans DWI checkpoints

A DWI checkpoint was conducted by members of the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office on January 3 on State Highway 313 near Bernalillo High School. Other checkpoints are planned for the months ahead. Sandoval County Sheriff John Paul Trujillo stated, “It is my strong belief that the main goal of the DWI checkpoint is for the reduction of DWI-related crashes through education, information, and enforcement.” The sheriff’s office and the New Mexico Traffic Safety Bureau encourage the public to drive responsibly, use designated drivers, and most importantly, not drive after consuming alcohol.


Burglary ring busted

The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office has unveiled a burglary ring. They have recovered more than $40,000 in stolen property, and a suspect has been arrested. The investigation revealed that the suspects were breaking into homes that were under construction and stealing newly installed appliances, tools, and other items. The burglaries took place over several months in Placitas, Corrales, and Albuquerque.

Sandoval County detectives learned during the investigation that the suspects were selling the stolen items locally and using the popular eBay site to sell them nationwide.

One twenty-three-year-old suspect was arrested and booked into the Sandoval County Detention Center on numerous felony charges. Indictments against several other suspects are forthcoming.


Blood drive planned at church in Placitas

Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is sponsoring a blood drive on Sunday, February 29, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Anyone eligible to give is welcome. You will be tested at the site for qualification. Please bring along identification. If you would like to sign up or need more information, please contact Betty Closser at 867-1221.


Highway shrine built in 2002 for DWI victim, Danielle Romero

Highway shrine built in 2002 for DWI victim, Danielle Romero

DWI killer of Placitas teenager sentenced to maximum prison term

Ty Belknap

On January 5, District Judge Kenneth Brown sentenced twenty-eight-year-old Erline Nakai of Shiprock to six years in prison for vehicular homicide in the killing of eighteen-year-old Danielle Romero of Placitas.

Brown also ordered Nakai to pay restitution to the victim’s family, “even if it’s a dollar a month, to remind her what she’s done.”

Romero died in August 2002 when Nakai’s pickup truck struck her car head-on near the village of Placitas. According to court records, Nakai had a 0.15 blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.

Tina Romero, Danielle’s mother, told the Signpost, “We were overwhelmed and grateful that Judge Brown gave her the maximum sentence. Every judge needs to give maximum sentences [to drunk drivers who kill], even to first offenders. Maybe then people will think twice before they drive drunk.” She thanked her family and the community for the support needed to press for justice.

The Romeros have become vocal advocates of tougher DWI penalties. On January 21, they joined Governor Richardson during his state-of-the-state speech when he used Danielle’s example to demonstrate the need for tougher laws that would increase the maximum sentence in such cases to fifteen years in prison.

Richardson said, “I’m sure that most of us here today saw Danielle’s grieving heartbroken parents on TV and in the newspapers when the judge sentenced the drunk driver to the maximum six years in prison. Six years for killing Danielle, a bright, talented, loving girl who until that horrible crash had her whole life in front of her. The driver got six years for choosing to drive drunk—Danielle never had a choice and now her parents will spend the rest of their lives mourning her loss.

“I am asking legislators to dramatically increase penalties for killing or injuring someone while driving drunk. Some people think that’s too harsh. I think it’s the right thing to do. Show the Romeros you agree,” he said.

Tina Romero said, “We’re going to fight to get these laws passed in the legislature so that other families won’t have to go through what we did.” The Romeros plan to lobby throughout the thirty-day 2004 legislative session.




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