NM Homicide is a website that reports on homicides in the state of New Mexico through primary documentation, including court documents.
I (Wheeler Cowperthwaite) started this entire project it a few years ago but decided it was only ready to go live in November 2019.
The website aims to give basic, attributed narratives for homicide cases. That also includes following cases from beginning to end.
Often, homicides cases are written about once and then forgotten. Lots are never written about at all.
Take, as an example, the following federal homicide cases that were never previously reported:
- In Nenahnezad, John Lodgepole was arrested on a charge of murder, then indicted for voluntary manslaughter, for allegedly beating a woman to death
- Near Mitten Rock, Maroquez Clah allegedly crashed a truck while drinking, killing his passenger. He was indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge
- Outside Gallup, Harrison Davis allegedly crashed a car while drunk, killing a child. He was indicted 16 months later
In many instances, local newspapers and TV stations will cover an initial arrest, but never cover the case again, even if a defendant pleas or the charges are dismissed. That was one of the reasons I decided to embark on this project. Take for example the following cases, most of which were never written about after the initial arrest:
- In Rio Rancho, Thomas Goodridge pleaded guilty to killing his wife
- In Albuquerque, Scott Wade Bachichia had murder charges dismissed and he was re-indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges for his girlfriend’s shooting death
- In Las Cruces, prosecutors dismissed murder charges against Joel Arciniega-Saenz, because “new information has come to light that requires further investigation in this matter.”
- In Rio Rancho, Joseph Vargas pleaded guilty to stabbing Kenneth Torres to death and received an eight-year sentence.
- In Farmington, a judge found Farmington police illegally seized Anthony Wagon from a reservation and ordered lawyers argue over the suppression of his statements
- In Bernalillo, Jacob Johnson and Liam Johnson pleaded guilty to beating to death their uncle as a bonding activity. Jacob Johnson received a 28-year sentence and Liam Johnson received a 15-year sentence, the minimum under his plea deal
- In Santa Fe, Matthew Rodriguez pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for stabbing his neighbor. Despite being a cover story for his solitary confinement in the Santa Fe Reporter, called “Not Forgotten,” his plea and sentence was never covered. He received a 10-year sentence followed by 5 years probation.
Sometimes the problem is worse, especially in rural areas of the state, because there isn’t a local media organization at all. Take the example of Kimsey Barboan of Cuba. He pleaded guilty in June 2019 to voluntary manslaughter for killing his roommate, Anthony Martinez, with a baseball bat. He received a 4-year sentence. KOB did an arrest story because State Police sent a press release, as did the Albuquerque Journal. The Journal did an arrest follow with the State Police flak. No one wrote about it again.
This website aims to give a more complete accounting of what happened, including in the court case, and why. That also includes appeals.
NM Homicide will also break news on cases that have not been previously covered.
The website will also include justified homicides and police killings.
An unlaunched portion of the website will include a database (spreadsheet) of known homicides in New Mexico. I hope that spreadsheet will give more clarity to sentencing disparities in New Mexico, and between New Mexico and the New Mexico federal court.
Use this content!
The content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons attribution-only 3.0 license.
If you use any of the content or stories from NM Homicide, please attribute the stories to the author (Wheeler Cowperthwaite) and the organization (NM Homicide/NMHomicide.com).
For online use, please link back to the original page or article.
This website’s content is being licensed under an attribution-only license because there are not enough journalists to cover everything that needs to be covered in New Mexico, especially when it comes to homicides.
As I am fond of saying, we should be acting like humans in a crab bucket, not crabs in a crab bucket. That’s part of the reason I’m trying to put up as many documents as I can. If someone doesn’t want to use and attribute my reporting, the documents I based my reporting on are freely available.
Each case gets its own page. Each page is backdated to the date of the death, or an approximate date. Even if a case is updated because of a plea or a verdict, the page will still be backdated to the date of the incident. Some cases don’t have posts/updates because they’re a little older and were written about post-adjudication.
Pages are accessible via the top menu, based on year. Listings of all cases in a particular year are also available in those individual year pages.
More recent updates in cases will get their own posts and appear on the main page. When you go to the main page, these are the posts that you see.
Internally in posts and pages, the names of relevant parties should link to a page that lists all the cases where they’re mentioned. (Since this website uses WordPress, I’m using the tags system.)
If you have a suggestion, want to help, or to complain, please contact me at nmhomicide at gmail dot com.
I’m the former cops/courts reporter for the Rio Grande SUN and a former New Mexico resident.
This is just one of a few of my projects.
I’m also working on (and seeking help to finish) a guide on covering the cops/courts beat in New Mexico and beyond. See the work in progress at http://nmcourts.wheelerc.org/
I blog, intermittently. It’s called “Put some cilantro on it!”
I also publish recipes on the main domain of my blog, Meals with Wheels.
What will come
As time and resources allow, I will continue to update this website with new cases as well as updates on cases that are already posted.
I’m also working on creating a glossary of terms for cases to clear up the difference between things like a criminal complaint and a summons, or a guilty plea, a no-contest plea and an Alford plea.
If you would like to help me break news and cover cases, please contact me at cowperthwaite at gmail dot com. I have a backlog of documents to process and write up.
There are multiple ways to contact us:
Email cowperthwaite at gmail dot com or nmhomicide at gmail dot com.
Follow us on Twitter, @NMHomicides
Or, fill out this form about cases you have information on.
NM Homicide is built on a few ideas, among them, that content should be shared freely, and that primary documentation should also be shared freely.
To that end, documents are posted on Document Cloud and Google Drive.
For some cases that have more than just paper documents, we are uploading the files to YouTube and Flickr. Currently, audio files are being uploaded to YouTube/Flickr because they are the most affordable storage methods. Have a better idea? Email us at nmhomicide at gmail dot com. You can also email us documents, or requests for something that hasn’t been posted.