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Man held without bond in chase that ended at courthouse

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Six days after allegedly leading police on a chase that ended when he drove a pickup truck up the steps of the Chaves County Courthouse, Randall Pargas appeared at that same courthouse Thursday for a pretrial detention hearing.

Randall Pargas (Submitted Photo)

After hearing testimony from two witnesses called by the prosecution, and arguments from the prosecution and defense, Judge Dustin K. Hunter of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court granted the state’s motion to hold Pargas, 62, of Roswell, without bond while he awaits trial.

On the night of April 30, Pargas is alleged to have led police on a pursuit in a 2017 GMC Sierra pickup truck, striking four parked vehicles before veering off the road, traveling across the courthouse lawn and driving up the steps on the west side of the courthouse.

Pargas faces four counts each of leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to a vehicle; failure to give information and render aid, accident with no bodily harm or death; and failure to give immediate notice of accidents.

He is also charged with one count each of aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer; driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs; criminal damage to property over $1,000; reckless driving; failure to obey traffic signal; driving without insurance; resisting, evading or obstructing an officer; and no evidence of registration.

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In his ruling, Hunter said Pargas’ alleged actions show he would present a substantial danger to the community. Pargas was the only person injured that night when he sustained a head injury, but Hunter said other people could easily have been injured or killed during the pursuit. Hunter also voiced concern about the belligerent attitude Pargas reportedly exhibited towards police once the pursuit came to an end.

Emily Fry, chief deputy district attorney for Chaves County, said Pargas’ alleged actions demonstrate a disregard for the safety of himself and others. She added that Pargas has two past convictions for driving under the influence, reportedly had pills on his person when he was arrested, and at the time had exhibited signs of intoxication.

Jordan Beall, Pargas’ attorney, contended that holding his client in pretrial detention was unnecessary and conditions could be crafted to keep the public safe. Beall instead requested that bond be set, along with conditions of release such as house arrest, a mandatory curfew and an order prohibiting Pargas from driving while the case is being considered.

Officer Adam Rhodes and Sgt. Brandon Speights were called by the prosecution to provide testimony. The defense did not call witnesses.

In his testimony, Rhodes said that on April 30 dispatchers began receiving calls at 9:30 p.m. of a pickup in the 4600 block of South Main Street traveling on the wrong side of the road. He said while driving in his patrol unit, he encountered the pickup near the intersection of Main and Jaffa streets as it continued north with at least one of its front tires shredded.

Rhodes testified that he attempted to conduct a stop on the vehicle, but it would not pull over. The pickup continued north, allegedly failing to yield to a red light at the intersection of Hobbs and Main streets. According to Rhodes, the pickup forced vehicles to pull to the side of the road to avoid being struck.

When the pursuit reached North Main and Fourth streets, near the courthouse, Rhodes testified that the pickup tried to turn east on 4th Street but had trouble doing so since one of its front tires was blown out. The pickup then left the road, went over the sidewalk and narrowly missed a traffic light pole before traveling across the courthouse lawn and trying to drive up the courthouse steps.

“It appeared he was trying to crash into the west doors of the courthouse,” Rhodes said.

When Pargas exited the pickup, Rhodes testified, he began shouting incoherently at officers while ignoring their commands. He eventually had to be physically subdued.

Speights said that when officers went to take Pargas into custody, several pill bottles and numerous pills fell from his person onto the ground.

Pargas was treated on the scene for a head injury before Speights took him to a local hospital. During his encounter with Pargas, Speights testified that Pargas was not speaking clearly, evaded questions and spoke over him. Pargas was also sweating, twitching and grinding his teeth, Speights testified, which led him to believe, based on training and experience, that Pargas was under the influence of some narcotic.

Beall said at Thursday’s hearing that he and his client are contemplating filing a motion with the court to have Pargas evaluated for competency.

In Guadalupe County, Pargas faces one count of unlawful taking of a vehicle. There, according to court documents, he is reported to have stolen the pickup involved in the pursuit from an individual in Vaughn. Bond was set Tuesday for Pargas, on charges in that incident, at $5,000 cash bond.

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

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