Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Jury deadlocks in murder trial of ABQ teenager

A jury deadlocked Monday in the murder trial of Noah Duran, who prosecutors allegedly fatally shot a man at North Domingo Baca Park in Northeast Albuquerque in 2020.

Jurors deadlocked on all five counts, including first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the shooting death of 22-year-old Elijah Mirabal.

Second Judicial District Judge Bruce Fox declared a mistrial on the basis of a deadlocked jury.

“It sounds like a few of you firmly disagreed with each other,” Fox said Monday after polling jurors. The jury split 5-7 on the murder charge, he said.

“I was a little concerned when you said voices started to get a little raised,” Fox told jurors. “I certainly didn’t want it to get to that point.”

Jurors apparently split on whether the fatal encounter was an intended robbery, as prosecutors argued, or what defense attorneys called a “drug deal gone bad.”

Prosecutors alleged that Duran and a second teenager, Jaden Sandoval, lured Mirabal to the park to rob him and opened fire when Mirabal drew a pistol to defend himself.

Sandoval, 18, also faces charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery in Mirabal’s death. No trial date has been scheduled.

Assistant District Attorney Dana Beyal told jurors last week that Duran and Sandoval intended to rob Mirabal when they used Snapchat to set up a drug buy with him.

After Mirabal produced a bag of cocaine, the two pulled weapons and said they were robbing him, Beyal said.

Duran fired 16 rounds from a .300 Blackout AR-style rifle, striking Mirabal with up to 10 gunshots, including one to the head, she said.

The jury also hung on a charge of aggravated battery for allegedly shooting and injuring Zachary Henderson, a passenger in Mirabal’s car.

Duran’s attorney, Ryan Villa, told jurors during the trial that Duran and Sandoval had come to the park to buy cocaine from Mirabal and had no intention of robbing him.

Duran returned fire in self defense after Mirabal fired four gunshots, striking Duran in the chest, pelvis, arm and hip, Villa said. Duran required emergency surgery for those injuries.

Duran was able to return fire only because Mirabal’s pistol jammed after firing four shots, Villa said.

The trajectory of the gunshots that struck Mirabal’s car suggest that Duran was lying on the ground when he returned fire, he said.

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