3 of 5 adults arrested at New Mexico compound have been released

The judge dismissed child abuse charges against Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj and Lucas Morten.
Caption
The judge dismissed child abuse charges against Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj and Lucas Morten.

Credit: Taos County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Taos County Sheriff's Office

A New Mexico judge has ruled that child abuse charges against three people arrested at a desert compound will be dismissed, and they have been released from jail.

Some of the charges against two others in the case also were thrown out.

>> On WSBTV.com: PHOTOS: 11 children found starving, living in New Mexico compound, police say

Taos County District Judge Emilio Chavez ruled in a hearing Wednesday to dismiss child abuse charges against Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj and Lucas Morten, saying they didn't have a preliminary hearing in the 10-day time frame required by New Mexico state law for defendants held in custody.

The three were among five adults arrested after 11 children were found living in filth on the compound and the body of a 3-year-old boy was retrieved. That body was later identified as missing Georgia boy Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj.

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Prosecutors could still try to pursue charges by seeking an indictment from a grand jury. Prosecutors offered no immediate indications Wednesday as to how they will proceed.

Another hearing that happened later Wednesday dealt with new charges filed against the dead boy's father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and his partner, Jany Leveille. They pleaded not guilty Wednesday to new charges of child abuse resulting in death after lesser charges were dismissed against them and other members of their extended family as the result of a deadline missed by prosecutors.

>> On WSBTV.com: 'I couldn't save him': Local mom devastated after remains found on New Mexico compound

The judge dismissed some of the charges against the two men.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is accused of taking his son, Abdul-Ghani, from his Clayton County, Georgia, home and bringing him to the compound.

The upgraded charges of child abuse resulting in death against Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Leveille are tied to an extensive account of Abdul-Ghani's death in a journal that prosecutors attribute to Leveille.

The surviving children on the compound told investigators about religious rituals performed on Abdul-Ghani, saying the boy would cry with his eyes rolling back into his head as “jinn" and "shayateens," or spirits and demons, were cast out of him, sometimes for up to five hours a day.

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After the child's death, they said regular washing of his body would be used as a "tool of punishments against one of the children, if he disobeyed the requests of the adults or showed disrespect."

Prosecutors said in court filings they discovered a handwritten document called "Phases of a Terrorist Attack" that was seized from the compound and includes vague instructions for "the one-time terrorist" and mentioned an unnamed place called "the ideal attack site."

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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2 Men Arrested After Women, 11 Children Found Starving At New Mexico Compound

Credit: DaytonDailyNews