New Mexico compound defendants to be released pending trial
TAOS COUNTY, N.M. (AP) - Authorities said the father of a missing boy whose remains were found following a raid of a New Mexico compound had performed rituals in an attempt to rid the disabled child of demons before the child died.
FBI Agent Travis Taylor testified Monday during a court hearing in Taos that one of the 11 children found at the makeshift compound and taken into custody said during an interview that the boy, Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, had died in February.
His father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, is one of the five adults arrested at the compound on child abuse charges.
Public defenders argue Wahhaj was trying to heal the boy by reading passages from the Quran. Prosecutors argued that Wahhaj was denying the boy medication.
One of the women arrested for child abuse in a New Mexico compound was in the U.S. illegally, according to police officials.
Jany Leveille, 35, was taken into custody by the Taos County Sheriff's Office on a makeshift New Mexico compound with four other adults after 11 children were found in deplorable conditions.
"We turned one defendant over to ICE Officials because she was illegally in this country," Taos County Public Information Officer Steven Fullendorf said. Ms. Leveille Is from the island of Haiti.
RELATED: Court documents show timeline from abduction to raid on N.M. compound
Monday evening, Judge Sarah Backus decided the five adult would not have to have to be held in jail until trial.
Backus said, although she was concerned by "troubling facts," prosecutors failed to articulate any specific threats to the community.
She set a $20,000 bond for each and ordered that they wear ankle monitors and have weekly contact with their attorneys.
Wahhaj, who is also accused of kidnapping his son from Clayton County in December, still will be held due to being wanted in Georgia for the alleged abduction.
The decision after a lengthy hearing in Taos during which prosecutors said the five defendants were preparing for a dangerous anti-government mission.
State prosecutors said children who were found at a ramshackle New Mexico compound were trained to use firearms and learned other tactical techniques as they prepared to get rid of teachers, law enforcement and other institutions that were considered corrupt.
They presented evidence of the firearms training done by Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and described a compound fortified by old tires and wooden pallets.
Defense attorneys argued prosecutors were unjustly trying to paint their clients as armed militants.
Public defenders also argued that the rifles and handguns found on the property are common guns that can be bought at retail stores and that their clients made no aggressive efforts to defend their compound as authorities closed in to serve search warrants earlier this month.
Prosecutors were asking that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and the other defendants be held pending trial.
Authorities testified during the hearing about the tires, wooden pallets and earthen walls that made up the compound. They also described the shooting range that was on the property.
RELATED: Report: Dad arrested at 'extremist' N.M. compound planned 'exorcism,' tied to terror-linked imam