Jail authorities aren’t taking chances with the safety of the 27-year-old man accused of killing four teens in a car accident early Sunday morning, June 28, Santa Fe Santa Fe County Adult Correctional Facility Administrator David Trujillo tells SFR.
Scott Owens, who was allegedly drunk, is currently in isolated protective custody, which is typical of high profile cases, according to Trujillo. Owens is also on suicide watch pending a mental health evaluation, Trujillo says.
“Keep in mind the crime [Owens is accused of committing] is a crime that is not well liked by inmates in general,” Trujillo says. “They tend to want to go after sex offenders, child abusers and in this case the kids were so young, they fall into that category.”
In Owens’ case, threats have already been made against his life. According to Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano, deputies are patrolling his mother’s neighborhood whenever possible.
On Tuesday, a group of teens arrived at the Santa Fe County Magistrate Court having expressed the intent of assaulting Owens at his arraignment. The teenagers did not know that Owens would be appearing by video and not in person.
SFR witnessed several teenagers talking about the plan at the memorial at Cathedral Park earlier in the day. After the court hearing, the teenagers confirmed to SFR they intended to punch Owen.
“He was smiling in his mug shot,” one 16-year-old girl told SFR after the hearing. “I’m here because I wanted to see that motherfucker knocked out.”
Another teen told reporters and a sheriff’s deputy outside the court that he planned to put a “hit” on Owens through friends currently in lock-up.
The teens identified themselves as friends of the four teens killed, Rose Simmons, Kate Klein, Julian Martinez and Alyssa Trouw and a fifth girl, Avree Koffman, who survived and is currently in the hospital. Koffman is the daughter of SFR Advertising Account Executive Dan Koffman.
The deputy assigned to the court told SFR he believed the teenagers were just emotional. SFR contacted Sheriff Greg Solano from the courthouse to ask whether he had assigned a security detail to Owens’ home or alerted the county jail.
Initially, Solano said no such security measures had been taken. However, Trujillo confirms that the sheriff’s office informed him of threats shortly after Solano was contacted by SFR.
That’s more information than was provided to Owens’ family, according to his mother, Barbara Owens.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, July 1, Owens tells SFR she has received no word from the sheriff’s office.
“I have not seen anyone, no one has called me,” Owens tells SFR. “In a way it does not surprise me at all that no one from the sheriff’s has contacted me to alert me this was occurring because I feel that they have made up their mind already and I feel they convicted my son within 10 or 15 minutes of arriving on the scene.”
Solano, however, says a deputy called Owens' home and spoke to a relative twice. Solano maintains his deputies are on “close patrol” of Owens' home, which means they drive by whenever they are near her neighborhood.
“If this mother is saying we didn’t call and notify her, it’s just 100 percent untrue,” Solano says. “I’m trying to be politically correct and not say it’s a lie, but it’s just 100 percent not true.”
Barbara Owens could not be reached for a follow-up interview, but she did tell SFR earlier that she is worried about an escalation as a result of the series of services, memorials and funerals scheduled this week. She says that as recent as Wednesday morning, she was verbally assaulted by a man in parking lot.
“He said my son was a killer and he deserved to die,” Owens says. “He screamed over and over again that I was a fucking bitch and that should probably happen to me too.”
John Simmons, the father of Rose Simmons, one of the teens killed in the accident, tells SFR that he too has encountered teenagers advocating violence, particularly a group hanging around Cathedral Park.
“These little guys…were talking violence,” he says. “I told them, ‘Just don’t ever do any violence in my daughter’s name. I don’t think any of the other kids would want you to do violence in their names either.’”
Owens says she has alerted a private defense attorney who has agreed to accept her son’s case about the threats. She would not yet release the lawyer’s name.
According to Solano, his office has been swamped with investigating literally hundreds of leads and rumors in its investigation.
“I have had to assigned extra deputies just to follow up on rumors because I don’t want anybody to say that any information was given to us that we didn’t follow up on,” Solano says.
He adds that many of the rumors are completely off base, particularly regarding Koffman.
“Avree has died at least 40 times since the night of the accident; at least four or five times a day I get a call from someone in the press that they got an anonymous tip or read something on the Internet saying [that she passed away],” Solano says.
On the contrary, Dan Koffman indicated this afternoon that his daughter seems to be on the path to recovery through an email to SFR staff.
“Avree was awake for about 10 minutes this afternoon,” Koffman writes. “She’s answering questions like ‘What’s your name’ and such and read the time from the digital clock on the wall.”
Dan Koffman adds that she has suffered damage to the parietal area of her brain, but says, “We think this [damage] will not have a major impact on the future.”