Major Cold Case Ruling From State Court

New Mexico – The state Supreme Court is allowing the possible prosecution of violent felonies committed more than 20 years ago.

The court issued the ruling on Friday in the case of Nicholas Morales, who was charged in Socorro County with raping a child his niece from 1978 to 1985.

A 1997 state law abolished the 15-year statute of limitations for charging a person with murder and first-degree felonies. Morales was charged in 2005.

The Supreme Court said the law applies to certain violent felonies before 1997.

The justices ruled that a crime with an unexpired statute of limitation in 1997, when the law took effect, can still be prosecuted. That means charges can be brought for first-degree felonies committed between July 1982 and July 1979.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.