At 7:12 AM on June 5, 1999, in Rye, New Mexico, a community of 50,000, a bomb detonated at the entrance of the Choices Clinic, a not-for-profit medical facility providing pregnancy counseling and abortion services. Dr. Jeanne Sands, a physician at the clinic who was arriving for work that morning, and another member of the clinic staff were killed instantly when the bomb exploded. Responsibility for the bombing has not been definitively determined, but public suspicion has focused upon Operation Save All Babies, a national anti-abortion organization that has a local chapter in Rye.
Dr. Sands had one child, Jordan Sands, born January 29, 1981. At the time of her/his mother’s death, Jordan had graduated from Rye High School, near the top of the class after maintaining a 4.1 cumulative grade point average. Her/his juvenile probation record reflects activity beginning in 1995 and continuing through 1999. Dr. Sands had divorced Jordan’s father, Edgar, in 1995 following several years of bickering and fighting in the home, due primarily to the harassment the family suffered because of Dr. Sands’ employment at Choices.
On September 2, 1999, approximately 12 weeks after Dr. Sands’ death, Operation Save All Babies conducted a protest demonstration outside the Choices Clinic. Jordan waited around the clinic for approximately an hour before s/he began firing on the demonstrators using a semi-automatic pistol that s/he had taken from her/his mother’s closet. Two of the demonstrators, a local activist named Doris Reed and her grandson, were killed, and seven others were wounded in the gunfire. Also killed was an on-duty Rye police officer monitoring the demonstration, Denise Lucero, Jordan was arrested at the scene.
Jordan admitted that s/he fired the shots at the clinic and was charged with first degree capital murder for the deaths of the demonstrator, her grandson and Detective Lucero and attempted murder of the seven other demonstrators. At trial, Jordan did not dispute that s/he fired the shots that killed the three individuals, but asserted that s/he was not guilty by reason of insanity or in the alternative, that s/he lacked the necessary intent for first degree murder and was guilty, at most, of second degree murder. The jury rejected Jordan’s defenses and found her/him guilty of all charges.
At the sentencing hearing to determine if Jordan should receive the death penalty, the following witnesses will testify for the prosecution: Detective Barri/Barry Garcia, the arresting officer and an eyewitness to the crime; Kelly Patterson, Jordan’s juvenile probation officer, and Chris Mitchell, MD, the state’s psychiatric expert. Witnesses for the defense include Jordan Sands, the defendant; Pat Stanton, the benefactor who founded Choices Clinic and a long-time friend of the Sands family; and, Toby Yasui, Ph.D., Jordan’s therapist for the past four years.
Both the prosecution and the defense are ready to proceed in the sentencing hearing of State of New Mexico vs. Jordan Sands.
Written by Michelle Giger and Karl Johnson, Esq., Center for Civic Values
Thanks to Death Penalty Info Center, Susan Gibbs, Esq., Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, Henry Valdez, Esq.