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.
The following federal homicide cases were never previously written about:
- 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.