County seeks to dismiss suit in mother’s murder

An attorney representing the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit against the agency related to the slaying of a pregnant woman last year.

Local attorney Alan Hassler, in a recent filing, said a complaint lodged by the family of slain Anna Macias should be dismissed because it doesn’t properly identify who is being sued. The “Mesa County Sheriff’s Department” isn’t recognized under federal law as a legal entity, Hassler argues.

“The sheriff himself is not empowered to create a ‘department’ as a separate legal entity,” the attorney wrote in a motion.

Macias’ case was moved earlier this month from Mesa County District Court to U.S. District Court in Denver.

In a claim filed July 9 in Mesa County, the family of Anna Macias alleged her murder outside a Grand Junction apartment complex the night of March 30, 2008, was a “foreseeable result of the unlawful release” of 41-year-old Lonnie Ray Herrera.

The Macias family is seeking unlimited monetary damages from the Sheriff’s Department in the wrongful death lawsuit.

Herrera, a felon with multiple prior convictions, was arrested on suspicion of beating Macias two weeks before killing her. He was allowed to post bond at the Mesa County Jail on March 21.

The family’s lawsuit alleges Herrera kidnapped Anna Macias, 23, and her two children on March 30; both children were witnesses to the shooting.

Macias delivered a daughter after the shooting via emergency Caesarian section. The girl died two days after her mother.

As a parolee from state prison, Herrera shouldn’t have been allowed to post bond on March 21, officials have acknowledged.

Herrera is serving a prison sentence of 102 years.


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