New Mexico v. Lente (Published Opinion)Annotate this Case
The two issues presented by this case came to the New Mexico Supreme Court from a district court’s decision to grant Defendant Jesse Lente’s habeas petition. The first concerned Lente’s indictment, charging him with perpetrating various forms of sexual abuse on a regular basis against M.C., his stepdaughter (a so-called "resident child molester" case). The district court, relying on Valentine v. Konteh, 395 F.3d 626 (6th Cir. 2005), and New Mexico v. Dominguez, 178 P.3d 834, concluded that Lente’s indictment included “carbon copy” charges - charges that were truly identical, and not distinguishable by time or date or by specification that each charge was predicated on different acts - that impermissibly subjected him to double jeopardy. The second issue concerned the district court’s determination that M.C.’s testimony was too generic and insufficient to support Lente’s multiple convictions. Her testimony, the district court concluded, could support only one conviction for each type of sex-abuse crime Lente perpetrated and, therefore, Lente’s multiple convictions violated double jeopardy. The Supreme Court disagreed as to both issues, finding the district court wrongly interpreted the principles articulated in Valentine and Dominguez and erred in determining that Lente’s indictment included carbon copy charges that produced a double jeopardy violation. The Court took the opportunity of this case to clarify the principles courts must utilize when evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence presented in resident child molester cases.