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San Luis Valley DA Alonzo Payne says resignation will ‘spare divisiveness of a Recall Election’

SAN LUIS VALLEY, Colo. (KRDO) -- In a resignation letter obtained by 13 Investigates, former 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne says he submitted the letter to "spare the divisiveness of a Recall Election." The city of Alamosa has devoted $10,000 of taxpayer money towards recalling the progressive DA in recent months.

Payne's resignation comes a day after the Colorado Attorney General announced Payne had violated the rights of multiple crime victims. The violations included not informing victims about plea deals or case dismissals.

Payne's Resignation Letter

In the letter, Payne said the Recall Election would "overturn the will of voters" and the effort was not the best way to utilize the limited resources of the San Luis Valley.

"In the future, it is my genuine hope that the limited resources and taxpayer dollars of the San Luis Valley will be utilized to serve those most in need of a more effective manner and not for political purposes," Payne said.

13 Investigates spoke with Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman about Payne's resignation and the recall effort that was underway.

"Our law enforcement officers were finding it very difficult to get the DA to be responsible and take care of the responsibilities that he was responsible for," Coleman said. "It's been extremely challenging over the last year and a half."

Coleman said the City of Alamosa leading the charge in the recall effort was centered around hearing from multiple victims in the community that did not feel proper support from Payne's office.

"We kept hearing the horror stories from the victims who were being revictimized by the DA's office," Coleman said. "The DA was not processing warrants and releasing hardened criminals back out onto the street after our law enforcement was putting several hours of time into making an arrest."

Releasing offenders from jail was something Alonzo Payne was elected on back in 2020. According to his campaign website, Payne's objectives as DA centered around "stopping unwarranted prosecution of low-level offenses," and "End the racially biased practice of money bail, which punishes people for being poor."

Alonzo Payne for Colorado

In addition, Payne said he would "practice transparency in the DA's office and all law enforcement." That's something Mayor Coleman said didn't happen.

"A lot of people felt unsafe. A lot of people felt that the DA's office had dropped the ball," Coleman said. "We decided to do something about it."

Coleman said they collected over 4,000 signatures, signatures that were recently certified by the Colorado Secretary of State's Office. He was confident the recall election would have removed Payne from office if the DA did not resign.

"Hopefully the mediocrity is over and now we can have successful resolutions with the Attorney General," Coleman said.

13 Investigates reached out to Attorney General Phil Weiser's office for comment on what crime victims in the San Luis Valley can expect.

Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesperson for the office, said:

"The attorney general wants to respect and honor crime victims in the San Luis Valley, so it's premature for him to do an interview with you about how our office will support victims in the interim. The attorney general will have more to say in the near future about our interim role fulfilling the responsibilities of the 12th Judicial District Attorney's Office."

- Lawrence Pacheco

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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