Vehicular homicide charges have been filed against Frank McAleer, 72, of Tres Piedras in the fatal October 5 crash that took the life of 43-year old Julia Downs. Downs had recently moved to Taos after her partner Karl Jurisson was gunned down in her driveway in June in Albuquerque. APD says that the case is still under investigation. She started working with the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office just a few weeks before her death.
It was determined that McAleer hit Downs as she was making a left hand turn into a private driveway at a high rate of speed on US 64 west of Taos. There were no skid marks or any indication that he had hit the brakes. The posted speed limit is 55 mph but according to Taos County Sheriff deputies, he had been driving about 80 mph in his 1999 Ford SUV when he rear-ended her 2012 Volvo. He was also driving on a license suspended since 2007 in an unregistered SUV and without insurance. McAleer told deputies he did not see the Volvo’s brake lights and that he had smoked a bowl of marijuana earlier in the day. The crash occurred at about 3 pm. Downs died at the scene and McAleer was air lifted to UNMH with non-life threatening injuries.
Downs was a former prosecutor for the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s office before she left in 2017 to form her practice. She worked for the Pueblo of Isleta and worked as a legal consultant on the Better Call Saul crime drama being filmed in New Mexico. She left behind an 11-year-old son.
McAleer is being held in the Taos County Jail.