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Dismissed Sunland Park embezzlement case under review

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Oct 11 2013 08:17:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 04:58:24 PM CST

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Viña reports.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

A high-profile Sunland Park embezzlement case thrown out by the District Attorney's Office in Doña Ana County could be re-opened.

Last month, District Attorney Mark D'Antonio called the case against Annette Morales "garbage."

New Mexico State Police, the agency that investigated the case, was frustrated and baffled by that decision.

After some discussion the case could be prosecuted after all.

"We asked for a sit-down meeting with the district attorney to discuss any and all issues that he had with the case," said State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.

Kassetas was angry when the DA's Office dismissed the case.

Morales was accused of taking more $250,000 from Sunland Park. Investigators said she used that money to pay for home improvement projects and personal items.

D'Antonio told ABC-7 there wasn't enough evidence to prove that.

"When those elements of the offense in a certain case, in my opinion, cannot be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, then I'm ethically barred from going forward. That was the case in this matter," D'Antonio said.

Kassetas defended his team's investigation and still stands by it.

"I'm glad that it's being looked at again. We're able to address any concerns from the district attorney. I'm glad we're able to sit down and meet to address any concerns," he told ABC-7.

D'Antonio said he's confident his office made the right decision to dismiss the case, but he welcomes a review of the case.

"That's a good thing. There's checks and balances. I want to give the police officers, if they feel different, the chance to provide the evidence and arguments they need," D'Antonio said.

State police investigators are reviewing all of the evidence in the case to see if it should be re-opened.

"At the end of the day, he has to feel confident and comfortable prosecuting the case and I understand that. I just want to make sure the hard work and effort we put in to it is reflective of a good, thorough review," Kassetas said.

Since the case was dismissed without prejudice it can be re-opened.

D'Antonio said he looks forward to hearing the results of the review.

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