Two Cortez residents arrested in May on suspicion of drug trafficking have waived their preliminary hearings and are preparing to enter pleas.
Lyndel and Sherri Clark have been incarcerated in Montezuma County Detention Center since the week of May 13, when they were arrested after a monthslong investigation by local law enforcement officers and the Southwest Drug Task Force. In a court appearance on Wednesday, the husband and wife agreed to waive their right to a preliminary hearing. Their attorneys said they are set to enter pleas in August, and have been offered plea agreements that would include 15-year prison sentences.
The Clarks were charged May 30 with two counts each of felony drug distribution. On Wednesday, Sherri Clark’s attorney, Rae Randolph, said she had received an offer from the District Attorney’s office that included a guilty plea to an aggravated class 2 drug felony. The plea, she said, would carry a sentence of 15 years in prison.
Lyndel Clark’s attorney, Katie Whitney, said she had received the same offer.
When Montezuma County Court Judge JenniLynn Lawrence questioned them about waiving their right to a hearing, both suspects responded in loud, clear voices.
“I have complete confidence in my lawyer,” Sherri Clark said.
Lawrence scheduled Sherri Clark to appear for an arraignment on Aug. 16 before District Chief Judge Douglas Walker. She scheduled Lyndel Clark for an arraignment on Aug. 21 before District Judge Todd Plewe.
The other three people arrested in the investigation – Cortez resident Zekiel Biard and California residents Rommel Aviles-Reyes and Jessie Valenzuela – also have court appearances in the coming week. Biard will be entering a plea on Tuesday, and Aviles-Reyes and Valenzuela have preliminary hearings scheduled for Wednesday.
According to an arrest affidavit, the drug task force spent several months conducting surveillance on people suspected of supplying drugs to the Four Corners area, including the Clarks. They were arrested after investigators received a warrant to search their house and reportedly found large amounts of heroin and meth.
This article was reposted on July 24 to clarify that the Clarks have not yet indicated how they intend to plea in the case.