AP NEWS

DAs seek to add more time in grisly Las Vegas slaying

August 27, 2016

Prosecutors say Ricky Quintana killed his roommate, Michael Grube, in a grisly attack in April 2003 at the home they shared in Las Vegas, N.M. Police reports, affidavits and testimony filed in the case paint a gruesome picture of the crime scene. Officers found Grube’s body with knife wounds to his neck and anus. His testicles were in a trash can, according to reports.

One officer wrote in a statement that while Quintana was handcuffed outside his house, with his hands covered in blood, he began to lick the blood off his fingers.

But Quintana, 48, has never been convicted of murdering 47-year-old Grube. He’s never even been tried. A judge declared him incompetent to stand trial because of a mental illness. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he’s been held for 13 years at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute at Las Vegas on a 15-year commitment.

Now, with his release date just a year and half away, prosecutors are saying he still poses a danger to the community. Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Klayton and Joseph Marchman are asking a state District Court judge to add five more years to Quintana’s commitment at the mental institution.

On Thursday, Judge Gerald Baca agreed to hold a hearing on the issue, despite public defender Michael Rosenfield’s argument that the court can’t add more time to Quintana’s commitment because he has not been convicted of any crime. A judge can only add time to sentences given to convicted criminals, the attorney says.

Meanwhile, family members of Grube, a father of three, remain frustrated with the case, said the man’s sister, Susan Caldwell, in a phone interview this week from San Diego. She hopes Quintana will one day stand trial so that prosecutors can prove he killed her brother. But that seems unlikely. Recent court filings show psychiatrists believe Quintana won’t be declared competent to stand trial anytime soon.

Caldwell hopes prosecutors find a way to keep him in custody.

Earlier this year, prosecutors tried to prove there was enough evidence to charge Quintana with first-degree murder, which could have extended his commitment to 30 years. But Baca ruled at the April hearing that prosecutors had presented only enough evidence for a second-degree murder charge, and that Quintana should spend just 15 years at the mental health treatment center.

According to court filings, officers never found out what happened between the two men before Grube was slain, and they never could determine a motive for the attack.

Grube was divorced when he was killed, Caldwell said. He had two boys and a girl with his ex-wife. He wasn’t working because he was disabled, she said, but he loved being outdoors, and fishing was one of his favorite hobbies.

Court records say officers learned of his death from a woman, a friend of Grube’s, who said she had peered through a front window of Quintana’s home and saw a body.

An officer went to the residence and knocked on the front door and Quintana came out of the house. He told police everything was OK and that he did not want to speak with officers, according to a statement of probable cause.

But as Quintana walked back into his house, the statement says, the officer saw the lifeless body lying on the floor. He grabbed Quintana, and noticed there was blood on the man’s pants and on his hands.

The officer wrote in the statement of probable cause that Grube’s body had cuts and was covered in blood.

Other documents from the court file allege Quintana had “amputated Mr. Grube’s penis, scrotum and testicles and placed them in a garbage bag which was then placed in a trash container.”

A report from the state Office of the Medical Investigator later determined that Grube had died from knife injuries to his neck.

An OMI doctor who had examined Grube’s body in 2003 testified in April that Grube also was stabbed in his anus, according to logs of the hearing. It was unclear if Quintana had sexually assaulted Grube, the doctor said.

Over the years, psychiatrists have told different judges in the case that Quintana would not be able to stand trial because of his mental illness. In October 2014, a judge ruled that Quintana could stand trial, based on one psychiatrist’s report, only to reverse that ruling a few months later based on a different psychiatrist’s analysis.

“What he did was horrible,” Caldwell said of Quintana. She she attended the April hearing and heard for the first time all the gruesome details of her brother’s death.

She’s concerned that Quintana could be released from the Las Vegas mental institution in 2018, and she supports prosecutors efforts to keep him there, even if it’s only for a few more years.

“I think it’s important that he remains in custody and out of the general population for as long as possible,” Caldwell said. “If five years is all they could do in this situation, then that’s the best alternative.”

But over the past 13 years, she said, she often has asked herself: “Is there ever really going to be justice?”

Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 505-986-3062 or ugarcia@sfnewmexican.com. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.