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Suspect in crash that killed teen, passenger to remain in custody

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The suspect in an Easter Sunday two-vehicle collision that resulted in the death of a teenage driver and her younger sister will remain held without bond.

John Ensor (Submitted Photo)

Judge Thomas Lilley of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court in Chaves County, at a hearing Friday, granted a motion by the District Attorney’s Office to keep John Ensor, 33, of Roswell, in pretrial detention until his trial or unless otherwise ordered by the court.

Lilley, in his ruling, said based on Ensor’s criminal record and history of drug and alcohol use, as well as multiple probation violations, the defendant represents a danger to the public.

“I think his behavior reflects a wholesale disregard for what he is told to do by the court, and that he will not abide by any conditions of release,” Lilley said.

Ensor faces two counts of vehicular homicide and one count each of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; driving while license revoked; limitation on overtaking on the left; failure to register or title a vehicle as required; and no insurance, in connection with a deadly April 4 crash south of Roswell.

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On that afternoon, court records state Ensor was driving a 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada at a high rate of speed on New Mexico Highway 2 near Crockett Road when he struck a 2009 Ford Focus that was traveling northbound. The 17-year-old female driver of the Ford Focus and her 12-year-old sister, who was a passenger in the vehicle, died at the scene. Both were from Dexter.

Ensor, who also sustained injuries, was transported to Eastern New Mexico Medical Center where he was treated and released from the hospital. On April 13 he was located at a residence on South Hobson Road, south of Roswell, where he was arrested.

Taylor Jaggers, deputy district attorney, said at the hearing that Ensor has a pattern of not complying with court orders or conditions of probation.

She noted that Ensor was on probation at the time of the crash for a 2020 conviction for driving while under the influence of drugs.

In testimony during the hearing, Officer Trent Ebby of the New Mexico State Police, who was on the scene of the accident, testified that a hypodermic needle containing a brown substance was found on the floorboard of the vehicle Ensor was driving. He added the substance later tested positive for the presence of a “methamphetamine and/or fentanyl compound.”

Ebby testified the Oldsmobile Ensor was driving did not have an ignition interlock device installed on it, something that Jaggers said was a clear violation of Ensor’s probation. Jaggers added Ensor also represents a flight risk given his history of failure to pay fines or appear in court.

William Waggoner, Ensor’s attorney, argued that given the nature his client’s injuries — including a large number of stitches — Ensor should be released for the sake of his health and be allowed to stay with a friend in Midway. Other conditions of release, he said, such as electronic monitoring, could be used to keep track of Ensor, while allowing him to remain free.

Waggoner said it is not known for sure if the accident was his client’s fault and if the needle discovered in Ensor’s vehicle belonged to him.

“We’re making a whole lot of assumptions here,” he said.

A preliminary hearing on the case is scheduled for April 23 at 9 a.m.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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