Jicarilla apache woman pleads guilty to DUI-Related involuntary manslaughter offense
ALBUQUERQUE – United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, this morning, Richaline Atole, 30, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe, entered a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. During today’s hearing, Atole admitted killing Andy Talamante, 41, while operating a motor vehicle and under the influence of alcohol within the confines of the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation. At sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled, Atole faces up to eight-years imprisonment, a maximum $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release. Atole remains on conditions of release under the pretrial supervision pending her sentencing hearing.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, the motor vehicle accident leading to Mr. Talamante’s death occurred on the evening of October 16, 2010, on Jicarilla Road 8 near Dulce, New Mexico. Atole was driving a car with two passengers, her boyfriend Wilfred Bia, who was in the front passenger seat, and Mr. Talamante, who was in the back seat. The complaint alleges that Mr. Talamante was in a hurry to get home and insisted that Atole pass a slower moving vehicle in front of them. When Atole attempted to pass the slower vehicle, she swerved, lost control of her car and went off the side of the road into an arroyo. Witnesses said that Atole’s car went airborne and flipped four or five times before coming to rest. Mr. Talamante was ejected from Atole’s car and was laying on the ground death when officers from the Jicarilla Apache Police Department arrived on the scene. Atole and Mr. Bia suffered only minor injuries.
According to the complaint, when speaking with Atole at the scene of the accident, a Jicarilla Apache Police Officer detected a strong odor of alcohol. Tests on blood drawn from Atole at San Juan Regional Medical Center more than three hours after the accident revealed that Atole had a blood alcohol content of .231. Atole told officers that she lost control of the vehicle while driving 40 to 45 miles per hour and admitted that she drank a six-pack of beer before the accident. In her plea agreement, Atole confirmed these admissions, and affirmatively stated that she was intoxicated at the time of the accident that caused Mr. Talamante’s death.
The case was investigated by the Jicarilla Apache Police Department, the Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jack E. Burkhead.