ALBUQUERQUE ― Daniel Lowell and Trista Schlaefli were arraigned this morning in Federal Court in Las Cruces, on an indictment charging them with carjacking and firearms charges resulting in a death.
The charges arise out of a Nov. 27, 2017, crime spree during which Lowell and Schlaefli allegedly fled from a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint, carjacked a vehicle at gunpoint resulting in the death of a victim, and attempted to carjack two other vehicles. During the hearings, Lowell and Schlaefli entered not guilty pleas to the indictment and were ordered detained pending trial, which has yet to be scheduled.
U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas and Chief Patrick Gallagher of the Las Cruces Police Department announced the charges against Lowell and Schlaefli.
The nine-count indictment, filed April 10, 2018, charges Lowell, 34, of Henderson, Colo., and Schlaefli, 32, of Colorado Springs, Colo., with high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint, carjacking, carjacking resulting in death, attempted carjacking, and possession of at least 15 unauthorized access devices. The indictment also charges Lowell with brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, attempted carjacking, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. It charges Schlaefli with aiding and abetting Lowell in brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and with attempted carjacking.
According to the indictment, Lowell and Schlaefli committed the crimes Nov. 27, 2017, in Dona Ana County.
The New Mexico State Police arrested Lowell and Schlaefli on state charges Nov. 27, 2017, and the FBI arrested the duo on the federal indictment on April 25, 2018. The state charges will be dismissed in favor of federal prosecution in due course. Lowell and Schlaefli remain in federal custody pending trial based on judicial findings that they pose a risk of flight and a danger to the community.
If convicted on the charges in the indictment, Lowell and Schlaefli face the following maximum statutory penalties:
- High-speed flight from an immigration checkpoint – five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
- Carjacking – 15 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
- Carjacking resulting in death – life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
- Possession of unauthorized access devices – ten years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
- Brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence – mandatory minimum of seven years of imprisonment to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
- Attempted carjacking – 15 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
- Felon in possession of a firearm – ten years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI, the Las Cruces Police Department and the New Mexico State Police with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa A. Ong and Alexander Shapiro of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case.