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Photo Courtesy Taos News Defense attorney Lizzy Bunker submits photographs at a hearing for Porfirio Brown, a 14-year-old charged with shooting and killing 13-year-old Amber Archuleta at his father's home in Questa on July 28, 2023

Mistrial Declared In Questa Teen̕s Murder Trial

A jury in Taos District Court could not reach a verdict on Tuesday, March 5, after a weeklong trial for a Questa teenager charged with shooting and killing a 13-year-old girl while playing with firearms at his father’s home last summer.

The jury returned to the courtroom after approximately eight hours of deliberation on Tuesday to announce they could not reach a consensus on the four counts filed against 14-year-old Porfirio Brown: second-degree murder, two third-degree counts of tampering with evidence, and one misdemeanor count of assault upon a peace officer.

An official tally found that two-thirds of the jury voted to find Brown “not guilty” on the murder charge.
Because the jury could not reach a verdict, a mistrial was declared, meaning that the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office may refile the case in the future.

Prosecutors tried Brown as a “youthful offender,” which in New Mexico means a juvenile defendant can receive an adult sentence if convicted. If the state were to downgrade the charge to involuntary manslaughter, Brown’s youthful offender status would be revoked and he would be tried as a juvenile.
On July 28 last year, Brown was arrested on suspicion of shooting and killing 13-year-old Amber Archuleta while they were playing with two other friends, including Archuleta’s brother, at Brown’s family home in Questa. Following Archuleta’s death, the child witnesses told investigators that Brown then dragged her body outside the home to make it appear as though she had been killed in a drive-by shooting.

Following the fatal shooting, Brown’s father, William Brown, became the first person in New Mexico to be charged with negligently making a firearm accessible to a minor, otherwise known as the Bennie Hargrove Law, a misdemeanor.

Brown wept as the jury announced it could not reach a verdict on the murder charge and looked back at his family, who were sitting behind him throughout the trial. Following the mistrial, he was released from custody.