One of two defendants suspected of kidnapping, robbing and threatening to kill and bury a hitchhiker on County Road G in December laughed in Montezuma County Court on Wednesday when Judge JenniLynn Lawrence refused to lower his $75,000 bond.
Towaoc residents Clint Laner, 28, and Keshaun Begay, 20, picked up a female who was hitchhiking near Shiprock, New Mexico, on Dec. 7, according to a Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office incident report. A pregnant woman, who Laner said is his wife, was a passenger.
The female hitchhiker later told law enforcement that she thought Laner and Begay would take her home, off U.S. Highway 491 in New Mexico. Once the vehicle passed the Colorado border, however, she became concerned. According to the incident report, the woman said Laner threatened to kill her with a knife and bury her. She used her cell phone to call 911, and Begay then broke her phone, according to the report.
The pregnant woman reportedly attempted to persuade Laner to stop threatening the hitchhiker and let her out of the car. By this time, Laner had driven a maroon sedan with a broken back window to Road G.
According to the incident report, Laner told Begay to not let the hitchhiker out of the vehicle. They began grabbing at her and her backpack and purse. After a struggle, the report states the hitchhiker “fell from the vehicle,” but was not able to retrieve her belongings. The vehicle kept heading toward the Utah border.
Responding to the hitchhiker’s 911 call as well a passerby who reported seeing a woman bleeding on the side of the road, an MCSO sergeant headed down Road G and found the maroon sedan parked in the westbound lane of the 9000 block, blocking the travel lane. He conducted a high-risk stop. Deputies soon arrived.
The sergeant instructed Laner to throw the keys out of the window, but Laner said his wife had removed the keys from the ignition and was holding on to them. She then threw the keys out. Laner got out of the car and laid down on the ground, as instructed.
Begay was found passed out in the back seat of the car. He was intoxicated and had urinated on himself, according to the report. Officers found three knives and a broken glass meth pipe on his body. He was arrested without much incident, but Laner presented complications for officers.
Laner, who was intoxicated, repeatedly told officers to kill him, shoot him and shove his face into the pavement, according to the incident report. When he refused to get inside a patrol vehicle, the sergeant used his stun device twice on Laner. Laner proceeded to hit his head against the inside of the window, causing self-inflicted abrasions. He continued to be uncooperative at Southwest Memorial Hospital, where he was taken for medical clearance before the Montezuma County Detention Center.
In court Wednesday, Laner’s public defender, Jonathan Jourdane, asked Lawrence to reduce bond from $75,000 to $25,000. He said Laner was willing to comply with GPS tracking and continuous alcohol monitoring.
He said Laner has a 3-year-old daughter and his longtime girlfriend, who was pregnant, recently had a miscarriage. Jourdane said it has been difficult for Laner.
Jourdane argued that the strength of the case against Laner was questionable. He said bodycam footage of the reporting witness showed she was intoxicated and the knives were found on Begay, not Laner.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Margeson read Laner’s criminal history. He has had four warrants for failing to appear in the past 10 years, a felony escape conviction, a felony vehicular eluding conviction, five protection order violation convictions and two menacing convictions.
Margeson said Laner’s alleged actions are “extremely concerning” and “violent in nature.”
“The defendant is both a danger to the community and a flight risk,” Margeson said.
After reviewing Laner’s criminal history, Lawrence said the escape and eluding convictions stemmed from far less serious charges than the current case. She said she believed Laner presented a “significant flight risk” as well as an “extraordinary risk” to the community.
Lawrence ruled that bond was appropriately set at $75,000 cash or surety. The defendant then laughed from the video feed at the Montezuma County Detention Center. Lawrence said his laughter didn’t give her any assurance that he was taking the proceedings seriously.
He began to explain that he laughed because he has shown the court he could comply, but Lawrence advised him to exercise his right to remain silent. A detention deputy promptly escorted Laner out of the video cell.
Because Laner and Begay are co-defendants, Margeson asked that their preliminary hearings be set for the same day. They will both appear in court Feb. 13.
Laner is charged with second-degree kidnapping, where the victim was also robbed, a Class 2 felony; aggravated robbery with an accomplice armed with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or wound if resistance is offered, a Class 3 felony; driving under the influence and resisting arrest.
Begay is charged with aggravated robbery with an accomplice armed with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or wound if resistance is offered, a Class 3 felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia.