Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Sandoval County Deputy Guilty of Battery

By Chris Vogel, Journal Staff Writer

A Sandoval County Sheriff's deputy has been acquitted of charges of attempted criminal sexual penetration and false imprisonment.
But Clinton Weatherspoon, 33, was found guilty Friday of misdemeanor battery and will be placed on leave without pay.
Charges against Weatherspoon stemmed from a December 2000 incident in which his ex-girlfriend — also the mother of his child — had told neighbors and police that Weatherspoon had assaulted her and tried to have sex with her, police reports said.
But the reports said statements from the victim, who lives in Albuquerque, were contradictory and said she did not want to aid in the prosecution of Weatherspoon.
"We're pleased with the conviction on the battery charge," Assistant 2nd Judicial District Attorney Antonio Maestas said. "The victim did not want to prosecute, and when she took the stand she recanted her original story. But the facts presented contradicted her recantation, and the jury convicted him."
The trial was held in 2nd Judicial District Court.
Weatherspoon's attorney, Timothy Padilla, said, "Our defense was he didn't do it, that it just didn't happen. I think he should have been acquitted on everything."
According to police reports, Weatherspoon and the victim spoke on the phone on Dec. 26, 2000, and agreed to meet to discuss child support.
In an initial statement made to Albuquerque police officer Cecil Knox, the victim said that when Weatherspoon arrived he told her he wanted to have sex, police reports said. The victim said that when she refused, Weatherspoon kept her from fleeing by "grabbing her, shutting the door and banging her against the walls of the apartment," reports said.
Weatherspoon was on duty at the time, according to the report.
During a later interview, the victim said she told Weatherspoon, "If you really want to be with me, why don't you tell your girlfriend you're with me?" police reports said.
When Weatherspoon, dressed in his sheriff's uniform, responded that he couldn't tell his girlfriend, the victim said she began grabbing at items on his duty belt, police reports said.
The victim said a magazine of bullets fell from the belt, and the two scrapped on the floor for it, reports said.
She told a neighbor that Weatherspoon tried to have sex with her, but later told police that was not true, reports said.
Police were notified of the incident by the victim's neighbor, who said she heard "banging" from the victim's apartment and a female yelling for help, police reports said.
Also, in a recorded 911 call, the victim said she and Weatherspoon had fought, but she did not want to press charges, police reports said.
Weatherspoon told police that the woman became "hostile" when he said he was still seeing his girlfriend, and she said she was going to tell police he raped and battered her, police reports said. Weatherspoon said he never hit the woman.
"I think the battery conviction was a compromise," Padilla said. "(The jury) said Mr. Weatherspoon may have touched her when he went to get the magazine. She wasn't injured. ... There were just scratches, and she could have gotten those grabbing for his belt."
In terms of the lone battery conviction, Maestas said, "In my opinion, the jurors were convinced that the victim's statements to the 911 operator and to police officers immediately thereafter were closer to the truth than her statements on the witness stand."
Weatherspoon will be sentenced in early August, Maestas said. He faces a maximum of six months in jail.
Sandoval County Sheriff Ray Rivera said Monday afternoon he placed Weatherspoon on administrative leave without pay for a minimum of 30 days. Once Weatherspoon is sentenced, Rivera said, he will re-evaluate the situation.