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For the recently engaged couple, the judge’s order to stay away from each other was probably the worst punishment of all, so far.
Pending the upcoming trials for their crimes, a young couple accused of burglarizing at least six homes in Los Alamos will be forbidden to see or communicate with each other until their cases are resolved. And if they are found guilty, they probably won’t be seeing each other for a long time after that.
“You will avoid all contact with the alleged victims and anyone that might testify in this case,” said Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados to suspect Marcos Vigil, who stood quietly by his attorney’s side as Casados read his conditions of release. “That includes Miss (Brandi) Merrifield (his fiancée). You can have no contact with her. You can’t send your cousin to send her cousin a message to get to her. Do you understand that? If I hear any inkling of ‘well, we got to talk,’ you’re in jail.
“As far as I’m concerned, your engagement is over, so you are going to have to propose to her again. Do you understand me?” Vigil sullenly replied, “yes your honor.” During Merrifield’s hearing, which came after Vigil’s, Casados said that as far as she was concerned, her engagement to Vigil was now “null and void.”
Throughout the hearings, both suspects were respectful and quiet, only replying in the affirmative to Casado’s conditions for release.
Vigil was represented by local attorney Bill Snowden, who asked the judge to lower Vigil’s bond from $57,500 to $4,000, with the understanding that Vigil will be able to pay 10 percent of that.
Casados agreed to lowering it to $10,000, with the understanding that Vigil will have to comply to certain conditions which included being tested for illegal drugs once a week by the court’s probation officers. Merrifield, who was represented by Tyr Loranger, had her $28,000 bond reduced to $5,000, on the condition that she too remain in the area and be tested for illegal drugs weekly.
On Aug. 7, police were called to a home in the 1800 block of Sereno in Los Alamos on reports of a burglary in progress. A witness to the crime managed to get a plate number and description of Vigil’s and Merrifield’s car as they drove off with a box of items from the burgled house.
Through police sketches and a positive identification of Merrifield through motor vehicle records, police were able to link the couple to other burglaries in the area.
On Aug. 13, they were able to track down the couple to their home in Ojo Caliente.
During a search of their home, police found numerous items described by the victims of the burglaries, including class rings, a Sony PS3 computer game console, silver coins and other jewelry items.
During their separate interviews at the police station, Merrifield revealed their method of operation. She said that Vigil had been “making” her come with him to Los Alamos to commit burglaries.
Merrifield said he would tell her to go to the front door of a house and knock.
If the homeowner answered, she would ask if someone was there, using a random name to avoid suspicion.
If no one was home, Vigil would then go to the rear of the residence and kick the door in. He would then make her go to a pawn shop in Española and pawn the stolen goods. She told police she once received $300 from the shop for jewelry. She also said she helped Vigil with at least 20 burglaries in Los Alamos.
She also told police that when she asked him why Los Alamos, Vigil allegedly answered ‘’...because that’s where the rich people live.”
They are both due to appear in magistrate court for their preliminary hearing Oct. 7. If they fail to appear, then they will each be held responsible for the remaining amounts of their bonds and placed back into custody.
At press time, they were still in custody at the Los Alamos Detention Center.