3 ‘extremist Muslim’ New Mexico compound suspects released after judge drops all charges
Three suspects tied to a New Mexico compound where alleged Muslim extremists reportedly trained children to be school shooters were released from custody on Wednesday, hours after a judge dismissed all of the charges against them, Fox News confirmed.
District Judge Emilio Chavez on Wednesday dismissed charges against three of the five defendants -- Lucas Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj and Hujrah Wahhaj -- ruling that authorities violated the state’s “10-day rule.”
Child abuse charges against them were dropped because prosecutors missed the 10-day limit for an evidentiary hearing to establish probable cause.
During a separate hearing Wednesday, Judge Jeff McElroy dismissed the same charges against fellow defendants, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Jany Leveille. However, charges leveled against them on Friday, in connection to the death of a missing 3-year-old boy, remained.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the boy's father, and Leveille were charged with abuse of a child resulting in the death of a child and conspiracy to commit abuse of a child, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe announced.
The five suspects were arrested by authorities after an Aug. 3 raid following a monthslong search investigating the disappearance of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a 3-year-boy with severe medical issues who went missing from Georgia in December. The occupants of the compound were "most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief," an official said at the time.
Taos County Sheriff's deputies discovered 11 children at the compound, who were taken into the custody of state child-welfare workers. On Aug. 6, a child’s remains were found on the property.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was allegedly training children to commit school shootings, according to prosecutors, who later alleged that the juveniles were taught how to use firearms, as well as tactical techniques, in order to kill teachers, law enforcement and other institutions they found corrupt.
Health officials confirmed earlier this month that the discovered remains were positively identified as the 3-year-old's.
Chavez said Wednesday that it was a very difficult decision to drop the charges but the rule left him with no option. Prosecutors could still seek charges for the three by asking a grand jury to indict them but offered no immediate indication on how they would proceed.
Fox News' Faith Mangan, Nicole Darrah, Matt Richardson, Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed to this report.