Police have filed a new charge in magistrate court against the man suspected of stealing a wallet from a woman who had just exited a Walmart.
Christian Sanchez, 48, is now charged with a petty misdemeanor count of larceny.
LCPD detectives originally charged Sanchez with felony counts of robbery and conspiracy but the Third Judicial District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges, police said.
Police said Sanchez's girlfriend, 36-year-old Shana Kowalke, was originally charged with a felony count of conspiracy to commit robbery but that charge also was dismissed by the DA's Office. She no longer faces charges in this case.
"The DA declined to prosecute because it was overcharged by the case agent. It's actually a petty misdemeanor offense," said Patrick Hayes, a spokesman with the district attorney's office.
Hayes said the woman was "pickpocketed, not robbed ... state laws states what happened was not a robbery, it was larceny and we have an obligation to dismiss those charges."
Christian Sanchez (Courtesy LCPD)
Officers were dispatched to the incident that occurred at about 8 p.m. Saturday, September, 3, 2016 at the Walmart store on Walton Boulevard. Detectives learned a 19-year-old woman was leaving the store, carrying a bag of ice in each hand, with her wallet tucked underneath one arm.
As she exited the store, a man wearing a blue and white plaid shirt, later identified as Sanchez, approached the woman from behind and ripped away her wallet. The victim gave chase as the suspect ran north into the parking lot.
The victim yelled for help and caught up to the man, striking him several times in the head. Bystanders helped detain the man until police arrived.
Court documents obtained by ABC-7's New Mexico Mobile Newsroom identify the victim as Analece Reber.
The documents state Sanchez told Reber "let go of me" and the woman asked him why he was trying to steal her wallet. Sanchez allegedly responded, "I am down on my luck" and handed the wallet over to the woman, the document states.
Detectives reviewed surveillance video from Walmart that allegedly shows Sanchez and Kowalke were inside the store only a few seconds before Sanchez followed the victim outside. Detectives said they have reason to believe Kowalke helped Sanchez commit the crime by pointing out the victim.
Reber commented on a news article of the incident posted on the Las Cruces Sun News Facebook page. "I cried for about an hour after it happened. I watched the security footage. I watched him and his girlfriend stalking me in the store. I couldn't believe how close he was following me as I walked out the doors," Reber stated. "I had to call my mom and relive what had just happened. I listened to my mother cry over the phone and I cried with her. I felt a knot in my stomach when the officers had found a knife on him."
Reber also discussed the experience with ABC-7's New Mexico Mobile Newsroom in an interview that will air Thursday night at 10 p.m.
Magistrate Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Sanchez. Once he's detained, he'll be held on a $2,000 surety bond.