TAOS, N.M. -- (KRQE) -- The Taos County Courthouse was placed on lockdown by the sheriff's department Tuesday because of ongoing threats to court staff and District Court Judge Sarah Backus. Throughout the afternoon no one was allowed to enter the courthouse.
Backus is the district court judge who ordered the release of the five adults accused of starving 11 children on a compound in Taos County. All five were charged with child abuse. According to her office, less than 24-hours after the decision, Judge Backus came under attack through social media, email and telephone calls.
Last week, prosecutors filed for preventative detention. At Monday's hearing, Judge Backus ruled the five suspects will be released on the charges relating to child abuse. However, one of the defendants, Siraj Wahhaj, will remain locked up because he has a warrant for him out of Georgia. Another defendant, Jany Leveille, was taken into custody by ICE. The remaining three will be released while on ankle monitors.
During the hearing, prosecutors argued the defendants were too dangerous to release, saying they were heavily armed and training children to use high-powered weapons.
Prosecutors said Wahhaj's 3-year-old son died during a religious ritual on the property, and according to the search warrant, all of the adults and children watched it happen. Deputies found 11 other children at the compound who are now in CYFD custody.
On Facebook Tuesday, Gov. Susana Martinez called it a result of "liberal pretrial release rules put in place by the New Mexico Supreme Court."
Tuesday Judge Backus's office said it's her responsibility to "fairly and impartially apply the law and make a decision based on the evidence presented in court, not a popular sentiment."
WPIX / Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences