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Criminal trial against Rio Arriba Sheriff ends in mistrial

Rio Arriba is the site of Tijerina’s courthouse raid in 1967 and the sheriff preceding the present one, Rodella, is sitting still in federal prison for civil rights violations.

TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M.- The criminal trial against the sitting sheriff of Rio Arriba County ended in a mistrial Friday.

District Court Judge Kathleen McGarry declared a mistrial because the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Sheriff James Lujan is accused of interfering when Espanola Police were in a high speed chase back in 2017 and officers were in pursuit of suspect Phillip Chacon.

Prosecutors say Sheriff Lujan was friends with the suspect and wanted to help him. Court records claim he "instructed Phillip Chacon to gather his belongings and get in his patrol vehicle" to avoid arrest.

It's not clear whether prosecutors plan to bring Lujan to trial again.

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