Competency raised for Larrison Hunch, charged for 2020 Gallup motel beating death

• The prosecution and defense agreed to send Larrison Hunch to a mental hospital until he is competent
• Hunch is charged with second-degree murder for the beating death of Alvin Adakai, 62

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GALLUP, N.M. — A Mentmore man charged with second-degree murder for a motel beating death in 2020 had his case stayed, March 9, 2021, after his attorney raised the question of competency.

Mug shot of Larrison Hunch
Larrison Hunch

Attorney Todd Farkas raised the issue of Larrison Hunch‘s competency on March 1, before District Judge Robert Aragon stayed the case on March 9, according to the docket.

Farkas said during a hearing on March 5, 2021, that a neuropsychologist told him she did not believe Hunch, 45, was competent to stand trial, according to audio logs.

During a subsequent hearing on March 29, 2021, prosecutor John Bernitz asked the judge to send Hunch to the mental hospital in Las Vegas for a second evaluation and Farkas said they already reached an agreement on the evaluation, according to the audio logs.

According to the docket, Hunch was sent to the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas to “attain competency to stand trial.”

No new court dates have been set.

Hunch has been in custody since May 20, 2020, when he was arrested.

On June 2, 2020, Hunch was bound over to district court on charges of second-degree murder, robbery and tampering with evidence.

Hunch waived his right to a preliminary hearing or the presentation of the case to a grand jury on the condition that prosecutors dismiss, with prejudice, the charge of first-degree murder.

District Judge Robert Aragon arraigned him in district court on June 16, 2020 and he pleaded not guilty.

The incident

Read more about the incident and witness interviews in the case write-up

Gallup Det. Andrew Thayer wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant for Hunch that he was called out to the Lariat Lodge in Gallup where Alvin Adakai, 62, of Manuelito, had been found dead, on May 17, 2020.

At 10:28 a.m., when the manager Hitendrakumar Patel went to check the room, Adakai was lying on the floor in between the two beds. After grabbing his arm and receiving no response, he called police. Office of the Medical Investigator Field Investigator Harolynn Yazzie told Thayer that Adakai’s death was suspicious but the pathologist who conducted the autopsy would contact him with more information, he wrote.

That same day, pathologist Satish Chundru told Thayer Adakai’s death was a homicide and his neck bones were fractured.

Larrison Hunch’s girlfriend, Kerry Norton, told police that Hunch beat Adakai after he fell off of the bed during the night and after they had been drinking. Hunch was arrested on May 20 and denied hurting Adakai, according to court records.

On May 20, Thayer and Gonzales interrogated Hunch after he signed a Miranda rights waiver, Thayer wrote.

Hunch said Adakai appeared to be suffering from the coronavirus, he appeared weak and he probably died from it, Thayer wrote. Adakai did not look like anything happened to him when they left his motel room in the morning. He denied saying he “manhandled” Adakai.

Thayer and Gonzales left to retrieve the recording and when they came back, Hunch said he wanted a lawyer.

Detectives charged Hunch with an open count of murder, robbery and tampering with evidence.

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Competency raised for Smith Lake man with mindset of a 5-year-old child

Eric Garcia said he stabbed R.L. repeatedly with a knife during an interrogation
• His attorney wrote he has the mindset and cognitive ability of a 5-year-old child
• FBI Agent Mark Spencer made no mention of Garcia’s diminished mental capacity when describing his interrogation

See the case write-up

SMITH LAKE, N.M. — A Smith Lake man’s murder case is on pause after his attorney raised competency and wrote his client has the cognitive ability of a 5-year-old child.

FBI Agent Mark Spencer charged Eric Garcia, 40, with an open count of murder for the stabbing death of a man identified as R.L. in court documents, on March 9, 2021.

One day after Garcia’s initial appearance on March 15, 2021, and Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter ordered him held without bail pending a detention hearing, his attorney, Lucas Babycos, filed a motion for Garcia to be evaluated for his competency.

“Counsel has reason to believe that the defendant has been formally diagnosed with a severe form of intellectual disability,” Babycos wrote.

He wrote that Garcia has the mindset and cognitive abilities of a 5-year-old child and that he cannot effectively consult with him, nor can Garcia assist in his own defense.

“Defendant has no concept of what is occurring, or the magnitude of the allegations brought forward against him,” Babycos wrote.

Babycos and prosecutor Allison Jaros agreed to a competency evaluation by Julie Brovko or that he be sent to the Bureau of Prisons for an evaluation, he wrote.

Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing granted the motion the same day, according to the docket.

The next day, March 17, Fashing held a hearing on the case and Babycos told her he had “concerns” with Garcia remaining “at facility,” according to the minutes. Fashing ordered the case be stayed until the competency evaluation is complete.

No further court hearings are set.

The stabbing

Garcia stabbed R.L. repeatedly with a knife on March 9 after being told to leave R.L.’s house, after R.L. grabbed him.

Navajo Police Department officers initially received a call at 12:44 a.m., March 9, 2021. for a person laying on the floor of a house in Smith Lake, bleeding, Spencer wrote in an affidavit for a criminal complaint.

When officers arrived, they found R.L., YOB 1957, bleeding from the chest, abdomen and neck. Paramedics declared him dead 35 minutes later, at 1:19 a.m, Spencer wrote.

Long Canyon on the east side of NM Hwy. 371, southeast of Crownpoint, 35.6217 -108.1003, McKinley County, New Mexico, 18 May 2014. Photo by Patrick Alexander/Flickr.

A woman identified by the initials P.E., and referred to as Witness 1, told investigators she, R.L. and Garcia had been drinking inside the house. R.L. asked Garcia to leave “and a conflict happened.” Garcia had a knife and stabbed John Doe. P.E. ran outside, ran into another woman identified as M.L. and told her to call the police, he wrote.

M.L. told investigators she heard noises and went outside. P.E. told her to call the police. She went to the house and saw Garcia standing over R.L., left, told another family member what happened and then called the police, Spencer wrote.

Navajo police learned that Garcia lived a half-mile away, across the main road and knocked on his door, he wrote.

“GARCIA opened the door and had what appeared to be blood his hands, pants, and boots,” Spencer wrote. “GARCIA was taken into custody by NPD.”

FBI agents contacted a magistrate judge for an oral search warrant and found a bloody knife in a search of his house, he wrote.

FBI and Navajo Nation Police officers interrogated Garcia at the Crownpoint Police Department after Garcia waived his Miranda rights, Spencer wrote.

Spencer made no mention in his affidavit if it seems like Garcia has any cognitive issues, or the mindset of a 5-year-old child.

Defendants must “knowingly and intelligently” waive their Miranda rights, including the rights to remain silent and right to counsel.

In Garner v. Mitchell, a 2007 appeal in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court found that “petitioner’s waiver of his Miranda rights was invalid because testing demonstrated that the petitioner’s mental incapacity rendered him unable to fully comprehend the warnings and his right to remain silent.”

Spencer wrote that Garcia said he was drinking with R.L. and P.E. outside by the trees, and then moved into the house. Garcia helped to make dinner and R.L. gave him a knife to peel the potatoes. At some point, R.L. told him to leave and Garcia did not want to, he continued to tell him to leave and they started yelling at each other.

“John Doe grabbed GARCIA’s arms and tried to get him out of the house,” Spencer wrote. “GARCIA had the knife from peeling the potatoes in his pocket and pulled it out and stabbed John Doe in the chest area. The next stab was to the neck and then continued stabbing John Doe in the chest and back. GARCIA left and went home.”

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Judge dismisses one hit-and-run charge for man accused of killing woman, her infant, west of Gallup

• A judge dismissed one of the two counts of knowingly leaving the scene of a crash causing death
Jagjeet Singh does not have a case in district court yet, even though he was bound over on March 4, 2021
• SP Agent Larry Reuter said in court documents that Singh admitted to running over Jessica Ann Copey and her infant child on Jan. 19, 202

See the case write-up or past stories on this case

GALLUP — A magistrate judge bound over an Indiana man on a single charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing death, as well as drug charges, for allegedly running over a woman and her infant near Gallup and then fleeing the scene.

Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados bound over Jagjeet Singh, 24, of Indianapolis, to district court on additional charges of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance: heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Singh is charged for allegedly killing Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai, and her unnamed infant on Jan. 19, 2021 in a hit-and-run on Interstate 40, west of Gallup

Mug shot of Jagjeet Singh in case M-35-FR-2021-0021
Jagjeet Singh

Casados held the preliminary examination on March 3 and entered her order binding him over on the charges the following day.

Singh has neither been arraigned in district court, nor has a district court case been created, as of March 20, according to district court records.

Casados’ order does not say why she did not find probable cause for the second count of knowingly leaving the scene of an accident causing death, which carries a maximum sentence of six years.

The two drug possession charges appear in the court record as “IMPROPER STATUTORY CITATION,” including in Casados’ order.

If convicted on all the remaining charges, Singh could face a maximum sentence of nine years, if he received the maximum on each and the sentences were ordered to be served consecutively, or one after the other.

Singh is living with his family in Indiana. He had been ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet but the monitoring company ran out and the defense, with the prosecution’s assent, requested he only be required to call his pre-trial monitors once a week, which Casados granted.

State Police Agent Larry Reuter charged Singh a day after a State Police officer found the bodies of Copey and her infant in the median. The infant was in a car seat, State Police Officer Dusty Francisco wrote in a press release. McKinley County Sheriff’s deputies had been alerted shortly before to a woman walking on the interstate.

Reuter wrote in an amended statement of probable cause for Singh’s arrest that Singh admitted to hitting someone, after Reuter read him his Miranda rights. Singh has requested an interpreter for his court case and Reuter made no mention of reading him his Miranda rights in any language other than English or that Singh had, or did not have, trouble understanding him. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

When State Police officers searched his truck, they found heroin and methamphetamine, Reuter wrote.

For more on the incident, see the case write-up.

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Tavor Tom to ask for 7 years at sentencing, prosecution for 17

Tavor Tom‘s sentencing is set, virtually, for 2 p.m., April 7
• The defense wants seven years while the prosecution wants 17.5
• Judge William Johnson has total sentencing discretion, up to life

See the case write-up or read previous stories on the case

SHIPROCK, N.M. — Tavor Tom is asking a judge to sentence him to seven years for stabbing his aunt 75 times at her Shiprock home, including twice through the skull, while federal prosecutors are asking for 17 years.

Tom pleaded guilty on Nov. 24, 2020, to second-degree murder for stabbing to death his aunt, Roberta Clyde, 45, in 2019, after being indicted on the same charge on July 9, 2019. There was no agreement as to sentence, which is up to the sentencing judge.

Tom’s sentencing is currently set for 2 p.m., April 7, 2021, after being reset multiple times because the judge, William Johnson, was unavailable.

Tom’s attorney, James Loonam, wrote in a sentencing memorandum that Tom should be sentenced to seven years, half of his calculated sentence guideline of 14 to 17.5 years. Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life.

Loonam wrote that Tom’s age at the time, 18, was one reason, and that Tom, high on and addicted to dextromethorphan, also known as Mucinex, was “operating under diminished capacity” when he stabbed his aunt to death. That he killed a family member, and “will face consequences of loss of part of his family for the rest of his life,” was the third reason for giving Tom a sentence below the guidelines. Tom had been addicted to the drug since he was 14.

“Tavor knows that his actions have caused everyone he loves and cares about almost unbearable pain,” he wrote.

Loonam wrote that Tom was hospitalized 10 times for dextromethorphan overdoses and five times were suicide attempts. He included a timeline of the overdoses.

“Each hospitalization indicates that Tavor exhibited signs of chronic depression,” he wrote.

Loonam wrote that Tom’s actions were “a product of that (drug) abuse and addiction.”

Prosecutor Joseph Spindle wrote in his own sentencing memorandum that Johnson should sentence Tom to the high end of the sentencing guideline calculated by the U.S. Probation Office, 17.5 years.

Spindle wrote that Tom went to Clyde’s house to steal her car.

“However, once he was inside her house, the attempted theft became infinitely worse,” he wrote. “Before stealing her car, Defendant decided to stab his aunt seventy-five times in the face, back, abdomen, arms, hands and neck. She died of blood loss on the floor of her bedroom, alone and suffering.”

Among the reasons for a sentencing at the top of the guideline was how “senseless and brutal” it was.

“The stabbing was so frenzied, two of the stab wounds penetrated her skull,” Spindle wrote. “She died of blood loss. This level of brutality far exceeds what would have been necessary to effectuate a murder.”

While Tom is young and experienced traumatic events, his drug use contributed to them and he seems disinterested in curbing his use, he wrote. Spindle wrote:

“According to Defendant, treatment “takes up too much time.” (Doc. 38, ¶ 60). This level of apathy to his drug use, even after multiple overdoses and the murder of a loved-one, indicates that he is not interested in changing his life. Therefore, even if the brutal murder of his aunt can be partially attributed to Defendant’s drug use, the fact that he does not intend curtail his drug use indicates he will remain a public safety risk.”

Spindle is also asking for $21,606 in restitution.

The stabbing

At 10 a.m., July 2, 2019, Clyde was found dead in her house by her father. Sometime during that same morning, Tavor Tom was found in her Jeep Cherokee, after he crashed into a fence in front of a church in Nenahnezad. Navajo Nation police officers found a bloody knife in the car, FBI Agent Cary Cahoon wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant.

During an interrogation, Tom told FBI agents he killed Clyde with a folding knife he took from his father’s vehicle. He intended to go to her house to steal her car so he could drive it to Farmington to steal Mucinex. After he stole it from the store, he drove on the back roads toward Shiprock and he crashed the vehicle into the fence. He was found in it the next morning, Cahoon wrote.

Pathologist Ross Zumwalt wrote in the autopsy report that Clyde suffered a total of 75 separate “sharp force injuries,” meaning stab wounds and incised, or slashing, wounds.

“Two of the stab wounds of the back of the head penetrated the skull resulting in bleeding around the brain,” Zumwalt wrote.

Clyde also has four stab wounds in her chest and one in her abdomen, which penetrated her stomach. She also has cutting wounds on her hands, which Zumwalt classified as probable defensive wounds.

“Death was a result of the blood loss caused by the multiple wounds,” Zumwalt wrote.

For more details on the crash, see the case write-up.

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Eric Garcia: R.L., YOB 1957 —3-9-2021

 

Summary

On March 9, 2021, after being asked to leave the house of neighbor R.L. in Smith Lake, and then grabbed by R.L., Eric Garcia grabbed a knife R.L. gave him to peel potatoes and stabbed him repeatedly in the chest and neck, FBI Agent Mark Spencer wrote in an affidavit for a criminal complaint.

The case has been stayed after Garcia’s attorney raised competency and wrote that Garcia has an extreme intellectual disability and the mindset and cognitive ability of a 5-year-old child. Garcia is being held without bail.

The incident

Navajo Police Department officers initially received a call at 12:44 a.m., March 9, 2021. for a person laying on the floor of a house in Smith Lake, bleeding, FBI Agent Mark Spencer wrote in an affidavit for a criminal complaint.

When officers arrived, they found R.L., YOB 1957, bleeding from the chest, abdomen and neck. Paramedics declared him dead 35 minutes later, at 1:19 a.m, Spencer wrote.

Long Canyon on the east side of NM Hwy. 371, southeast of Crownpoint, 35.6217 -108.1003, McKinley County, New Mexico, 18 May 2014. Photo by Patrick Alexander/Flickr.

A woman identified by the initials P.E., and referred to as Witness 1, told investigators she, R.L. and Eric Garcia, 40, had been drinking inside the house. R.L. asked Garcia to leave “and a conflict happened.” Garcia had a knife and stabbed John Doe. P.E. ran outside, ran into another woman identified as M.L. and told her to call the police, he wrote.

M.L. told investigators she heard noises and went outside. P.E. told her to call the police. She went to the house and saw Garcia standing over R.L., left, told another family member what happened and then called the police, Spencer wrote.

Navajo police learned that Garcia lived a half-mile away, across the main road and knocked on his door, he wrote.

“GARCIA opened the door and had what appeared to be blood his hands, pants, and boots,” Spencer wrote. “GARCIA was taken into custody by NPD.”

FBI agents contacted a magistrate judge for an oral search warrant and found a bloody knife in a search of his house, he wrote.

FBI and Navajo Nation Police officers interrogated Garcia at the Crownpoint Police Department after Garcia waived his Miranda rights, Spencer wrote.

Spencer described the interrogation of Garcia:

“GARCIA stated that he was drinking at John Doe and Witness 1 ‘s house, located at 22 52 Rte. 49, Smith Lake, NM. They started drinking outside by the trees but eventually went to the house. GARCIA helped make some food and John Doe gave GARCIA a sharp knife to peel the potatoes. After a time, John Doe told GARCIA to leave. GARCIA did not want to leave. John Doe continued to tell GARCIA to leave but GARCIA did not want to. John Doe and GARCIA began yelling and cussing at each other. John Doe grabbed GARCIA’s arms and tried to get him out of the house. GARCIA had the knife from peeling the potatoes in his pocket and pulled it out and stabbed John Doe in the chest area. The next stab was to the neck and then continued stabbing John Doe in the chest and back. GARCIA left and went home.”

Spencer charged Garcia with an open count of murder.

Competency

Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter ordered Garcia held without bail on March 15, 2021 at his initial appearance and set a formal detention hearing for March 17, according to court records.

On March 16, Garcia’s attorney. Lucas Babycos, filed a motion for Garcia to be evaluated for his competency.

Babycos wrote that Garcia has been formally diagnosed with a severe form of intellectual disability, he has the mindset and cognitive ability of a 5-year-old child.

“Defendant has no concept of what is occurring, or the magnitude of the allegations brought forward against him,” Babycos wrote.

Babycos wrote that he cannot effectively consult with his client, nor can Garcia assist in his own defense.

Babycos and federal prosecutor Allison Jaros agreed a competency evaluation should be conducted by Julie Brovko and, in the alternative, he asked that Garcia be sent to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be evaluated, he wrote.

Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing granted the motion the same day, according to the docket.

The following day, Fashing held a hearing and Babycos told her he has “concerns” with Garcia remaining “at facility,” according to the minutes. Fashing ordered the case be stayed until the competency evaluation is complete.

Spencer made no mention in his affidavit if it seemed, during the interrogation, like Garcia had any cognitive issues, or the mindset of a 5-year-old child.

Defendants must “knowingly and intelligently” waive their Miranda rights, including the rights to remain silent and right to counsel.

In Garner v. Mitchell, a 2007 appeal in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court found that “petitioner’s waiver of his Miranda rights was invalid because testing demonstrated that the petitioner’s mental incapacity rendered him unable to fully comprehend the warnings and his right to remain silent.”

No further court hearings are set.

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Competency raised for Smith Lake man with mindset of a 5-year-old child

Sentencing delayed again for Allister Quintana in Dulce torture killing

Update: Sentencing has been moved to April 6, 2021

• Sentencing had been set for March 5, 2021
• Co-defendant Andrew Bettelyoun still hasn’t been sentenced

See the case write-up or previous stories on this case

DULCE, N.M. — Allister Quintana‘s sentencing has been moved yet again, this time to March 2021, although a lack of required court filings appear to indicate the sentencing hearing will be pushed out further.

District Judge William Johnson moved the sentencing hearing to March 5, 2021, after Quintana’s attorney, Ray Twohig, requested an extension of deadlines on Dec. 15, as he continues to wait for a psychological evaluation, made more complicated by the restrictions on in-person visits created by the pandemic. The motion to extend deadlines is Twohig’s fifth in the case.

Problems completing Quintana’s evaluation have been the reason behind many of the previous requested continuances.

Twohig wrote that the evaluation also brings up issues that “require further exploration.”

Mug of Allister Quintana
Allister Quintana

Twohig’s sentencing memorandum was supposed to be filed by Dec. 30, 2020, although no memorandum appears in the court record.

Quintana, 26, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with second-degree murder on Jan. 22, 2020. His codefendant, Andrew Bettelyoun, 25, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping a year prior, on Jan. 30, 2019.

Quintana and Bettelyoun admitted to torturing Travis Howland, 28, before binding his hands and feet and leaving him, naked, in a closet to die on Feb. 2, 2018 in Quintana’s house, according to court records. (Details are in the case write-up.)

Although Bettelyoun was supposed to be sentenced in May 2019, court records do not indicate that he was ever sentenced and he does not appear to be in the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons.

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John Lodgepole to be sentenced in April for brutal killing of woman in Nenahnezad

John Lodgepole beat Michaelene Warren and staved in her head with a cinderblock
• When he saw she was still alive, he propped up her legs and beat her ankles with a cane
• Prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez gave him a plea deal of six to eight years

See the case write-up here or past stories on this case

Update: On April 2, 2021, the sentencing date was vacated. No reason was given and no new sentencing date has been set.

Albuquerque, N.M. — A sentencing hearing has been tentatively set for John Lodgepole, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for beating Michaelene Warren, staving in her head with a cinderblock and, after he saw she was still alive, beating her ankles with a cane.

Lodgepole, 21, of Fruitland, is tentatively set to be sentenced at 3 p.m., April 14, 2021, by District Judge James Parker, according to a hearing notice. The hearing will be held virtually, via Zoom. No courtroom is listed on the hearing notice, entered on Feb. 10, 2021.

Lodgepole pleaded guilty to a single count of voluntary manslaughter, on Nov. 3, 2020, for Warren’s brutal beating death, on Aug. 1, 2019, in Nenahnezad. He signed a binding plea deal that set his sentence at just six to eight years. The deal was proffered by federal prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez. The sentencing judge, Parker, can still reject it.

A view from the Indian Service Route 36 near Nenahnezad. Photo by Gene Selkov/Flickr.

Lodgepole wrote in the plea deal that he punched Warren in the head and face 10 times because she called him names and threatened him. After throwing her to the ground, he took a cinderblock and “smashed the back of her head.”

Warren, 43, was a friend of Lodgepole’s mother.

“When I noticed that Jane Doe was still breathing, I took the block, placed it under her feet and used a cane to strike her ankles for approximately five or six times,” according to the plea deal.

The reasons behind the plea deal are unknown. He was indicted Oct. 9, 2019, on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.

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Tavor Tom to be sentenced in March for brutal stabbing death of aunt

Tavor Tom stabbed or slashed aunt Roberta Clyde at least 75 times
• Tom pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in November
• Judge William Johnson has total discretion to sentence him from no time to life imprisonment

See the case write-up or read previous stories on the case

SHIPROCK, N.M. — Tavor Tom could be sentenced as early as March 12, 2021, after he pleaded guilty in November to second-degree murder for the brutal stabbing death of his maternal aunt, Roberta Clyde, 45, of Shiprock.

District Judge William Johnson tentatively set the virtual sentencing hearing via a notice entered on Jan. 27. Assuming the case is not continued, it will be conducted over the video conferencing platform Zoom.

Federal sentencing guidelines appear to place Tom’s suggested sentence at 16 to 20 years. No sentencing memorandums, from the prosecution or defense, have been filed n the case.

Tom, 19, of Shiprock, pleaded guilty on Nov. 24, 2020, to second-degree murder for stabbing Clyde to death in 2019. The plea was conditionally accepted by federal Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa during a virtual hearing that lasted just over 30 minutes.

federal grand jury indicted him on July 9, 2019, on a charge of second-degree murder. He stabbed his aunt to death on July 1, 2019. According to the plea deal proffered by federal prosecutor Joseph Spindle, there is no agreement as to the sentence.

The stabbing

At 10 a.m., July 2, 2019, Clyde was found dead in her house by her father. Sometime during that same morning, Tavor Tom was found in her Jeep Cherokee, after he crashed into a fence in front of a church in Nenahnezad. Navajo Nation police officers found a bloody knife in the car, FBI Agent Cary Cahoon wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant.

During an interrogation, Tom told FBI agents he killed Clyde with a folding knife he took from his father’s vehicle. He intended to go to her house to steal her car so he could drive it to Farmington to steal Mucinex. After he stole it from the store, he drove on the back roads toward Shiprock and he crashed the vehicle into the fence. He was found in it the next morning, Cahoon wrote.

Pathologist Ross Zumwalt wrote in the autopsy report that Clyde suffered a total of 75 separate “sharp force injuries,” meaning stab wounds and incised, or slashing, wounds.

“Two of the stab wounds of the back of the head penetrated the skull resulting in bleeding around the brain,” Zumwalt wrote.

Clyde also has four stab wounds in her chest and one in her abdomen, which penetrated her stomach. She also has cutting wounds on her hands, which Zumwalt classified as probable defensive wounds.

“Death was a result of the blood loss caused by the multiple wounds,” Zumwalt wrote.

For more details on the crash, see the case write-up.

See the case on CourtListener.com or read the documents on Google Drive or Document Cloud

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More competency tests ordered for Richard Griego, charged for death of Jimmy Griego

Richard Griego has been in custody since 2017
While in jail, he has been charged in two more cases

See the full case write-up or read previous stories on this case

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Four years and five competency evaluations after he was arrested on a charge of murder in 2017, Richard Griego is still being evaluated for his competency to stand trial.

Griego is accused of throwing Jimmy Griego, 37, off the bridge over the Pecos River on March 28, 2017, an allegation backed up by data from an ankle bracelet he was wearing for a separate case, and an eye witness account, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant.

Richard Griego was bound over to District Court on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence on May 1, 2017. His case has essentially placed on pause since Nov. 15 2017, when competency was first raised as an issue.

According to the log of a Dec. 23, 2020 hearing, prosecutor Thomas Clayton said stipulating to Richard Griego’s lack of competency to stand trial would be “imprudent.”

Defense attorney Todd Farkas said the main question on competency is Richard Griego’s ability “to assist,” presumably in his own defense.

Mug shot of Richard Griego
Richard Griego

In New Mexico, a competency finding requires three things of a defendant, according to State v. Flores (2005):

  1. Understand “the nature and gravity of the proceedings against”
  2. Have a “factual understanding of the criminal charges”
  3. Be “capable of assisting in his own defense”

District Judge Gerald Baca ordered Griego be sent to the New Mexico Behavior Health Institute in Las Vegas to be further evaluated.

In a Nov. 18, 2020 hearing, Farkas told the judge that Griego had previously been found not competent to stand trial and Clayton said it was the fifth evaluation. Two prior evaluations found him competent while three, including the only recently completed, found him not competent.

Griego has two other cases pending against him, both of which happened after he was jailed in the murder case, and both of which are rolled into the broader competency proceedings.

The first, from Aug. 3, 2018, resulted in two counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner. The second, on March 1, 2019, resulted in a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

No new court dates are set.

Possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner

Las Vegas Police Officer Caleb Marquez wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant that he was sent to the San Miguel Detention Center on Aug. 3, 2018, for a report of a prisoner who has a weapon.

Jail staff told Marquez they found several items on Griego “during a shakedown of a housing pod.” The items were a hollowed-out bolt with a nut that had a nail pushed through the hollow end, about 4 inches in length, described as a shank, Marquez wrote. The second item was a handcuff key.

Clayton filed a criminal information on Oct. 19, 2018 in district court charging Griego with two counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner.

Aggravated battery

Las Vegas Police Officer Estevan Martinez wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant, on a charge of aggravated battery, that he was called to the San Miguel Detention Center on March 2, 2019, for a report of a fight involving Griego and Johnny Gallegos.

Martinez wrote that he watched a surveillance video from the incident and in it, he saw the two men got into a fight and Griego pushed Gallegos out of their cell and into the hallway with a crutch. Griego then allegedly beat Gallegos in the head and back with the crutch as Gallegos crawled away on his hands and knees. On the third strike, the crutch broke and Griego kept on hitting him with it, a total of eight times.

The two men were fighting after Gallegos tried to inject a crushed pill, he wrote.

On April 16, 2019, Clayton filed a criminal information in district court charging Griego with a single count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Continue reading “More competency tests ordered for Richard Griego, charged for death of Jimmy Griego”

State Police charge Indianapolis man with running over woman, infant, west of Gallup

Jagjeet Singh is charged with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident causing death
• SP Agent Larry Reuter said in court documents that Singh admitted to running over Jessica Ann Copey and her infant child on Jan. 19, 2021
• Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie released Singh on an unsecured $100,000 bond

See the case write-up

GALLUP, N.M. — State Police charged a 24-year-old man for the deaths of a 24-year-old woman and her infant child in an alleged Jan. 19, 2021 hit-and-run on Interstate 40, west of Gallup.

State Police Agent Larry Reuter charged Jagjeet Singh, of Indianapolis, on Jan. 20, 2021, with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, one count of possession of a controlled substance: heroin, one count of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Singh is charged for allegedly killing Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai, and her unnamed infant.

Singh pleaded not guilty when he was initially arraigned on Jan. 21, on just the leaving the scene of an accident charges, and Gallup Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie released him on an unsecured $100,000 bond.

Reuter later filed an amended complaint, charging him with the drug offenses, and he is set to be arraigned a second time, with an interpreter, on Feb. 2. The case was reassigned, for unlisted reasons, to Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados.

Mug shot of Jagjeet Singh in case M-35-FR-2021-0021
Jagjeet Singh

The case started on Jan. 19, 2021, around 9:30 p.m., when the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a woman walking east on I-40, around mile marker 15, west of Gallup. A “short time later,” a State Police officer driving that way saw a large object, a shoe and debris from a vehicle in the road and in the median. A deputy then arrived and they both discovered, in the median, Copey’s body and her infant, also dead, in a car seat, State Police Officer Dusty Francisco wrote in a press release.

Investigators “learned” that Copey was carrying her child in the car seat while walking in the left lane of I-40 when he was hit by a tractor-trailer, who did not stop. An attempt to locate the driver was broadcast to state and local law enforcement agencies. On Jan. 20, 2021, a day later, a McKinley County Sheriff’s deputy located a tractor-trailer with heavy front-end damage parked at the Flying J’s Truck Stop nears Jamestown, Francisco wrote.

In an amended statement of probable cause for Singh’s arrest, State Police Agent Larry Reuter wrote that state police officers recovered a blue bumper and a headlight where Copey and the child were killed.

Reuter wrote that State Police arrives “arrived” at the truck stop and saw Singh’s vehicle, which was missing the bumper and headlight, which matched those found on the interstate. Jagjeet Singh and his passenger, Gurcharan Singh, were “detained” and brought to the State Police office in Gallup.

Gurcharan Singh told Reuter that he received a call from Jagjeet Singh at 12:10 a.m., Jan. 20, that he hit a deer and he needed help to replace his headlight. Gurcharan Singh was headed west on I-40 and stopped at the gas station, Reuter wrote.

“Gurcharan told me he was not told anything about Jagjeet hitting a person,” Reuter wrote.

Reuter wrote that he then interrogated Jagjeet Singh, after reading him his Miranda rights. Reuter made no mention of reading him his Miranda rights in any language other than English or that Jagjeet Singh had, or did not have, trouble understanding him.

In court documents, Jagjeet Singh indicated he needs a Punjabi interpreter. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he knew he hit someone who had long, white hair, Reuter wrote.

“Jagjeet confirmed he had observed the person walking from North side of the median and walking Southbound across the highway,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet told me he took the exit at mile marker 16, stopped and looked in his mirror but could not see anyone in his mirror. Jagjeet never called the police and did not stop to look for the person he hit.”

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he called his cousin who asked why someone would be walking in the road and suggested he hit an animal instead. He drove to the truck stop, where he stayed until he was arrested, Reuter wrote. The cousin is not identified in court documents.

“Jagjeet drew a diagram of where his CVE was positioned when he struck the female,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet could not give an answer why he did not call the police or attempt to render aid to the victims he hit.”

When agents searched Jagjeet Singh’s tractor-trailer, they found two bags of a brown powder-like substance weighing 34.8 grams and a white crystalline substance weighing 5.6 grams. The drugs were tested, and came back as heroin and methamphetamine although Reuter did not write what kind of test was conducted, by whom or the presumed accuracy.

Field drug tests “routinely” show false-positive results, according to ProPublica.

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See the case files on Document Cloud or Google Drive.

Continue reading “State Police charge Indianapolis man with running over woman, infant, west of Gallup”

Jagjeet Singh: Jessica Ann Copey, unnamed infant — 1-19-2021

  • Suspect: Jagjeet Singh
  • Victim: Jessica Ann Copey, 24
  • Victim: Unnamed infant
  • Date of incident: Jan. 19, 2021
  • Charges: One count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, one count of possession of a controlled substance: heroin, one count of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia; an additional count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death was dismissed by a judge.
  • Status: Bound over to district court; no district court case created yet
  • Investigating Agency: State Police
  • Investigator: Larry Reuter
  • Incident Location: Interstate 40 near mile marker 15, west of Gallup
  • Judicial District: 11th Judicial District
  • Prosecuting agency:  11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Div. II
  • Prosecutor: Unknown
  • Defense attorney: David Serna
  • Magistrate case number: M-35-FR-2021-0021
  • Magistrate Judge: Pat Casados
  • District Case number: n/a

Summary

On Jan. 19, 2021, truck driver Jagjeet Singh, 24, of Indianapolis, allegedly ran over Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai, and her infant who was in a car seat, as she walked on I-40, then parked at a truck stop until police arrested him the next day.

Although an investigators wrote that Singh waived his Miranda rights and admitted to running over someone, he has also requested an interpreter in court proceedings and there is no indication that an interpreter read him his rights. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie released him on an unsecured $100,000 bond following his first appearance on Jan. 21, 2021. Magistrate Judge Pat Casados dismissed one charge of knowingly leaving the scene of a crash and bound him over to district court following a preliminary examination on March 3, 2021.

The incident

On Jan. 19, 2021, around 9:30 p.m., the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a woman walking east on Interstate 40, around mile marker 15, west of Gallup. A “short time later,” a State Police officer driving that way saw a large object, a shoe and debris from a vehicle in the road and in the median. A deputy then arrived and they both discovered, in the median, the body of Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai and her infant, also dead, in a car seat, State Police Officer Dusty Francisco wrote in a press release.

Mug shot of Jagjeet Singh in case M-35-FR-2021-0021
Jagjeet Singh

Investigators “learned” that Copey was carrying her child in the car seat while walking in the left lane of I-40 when he was hit by a tractor-trailer, who did not stop. An attempt to locate the driver was broadcast to state and local law enforcement agencies. On Jan. 20, 2021, a day later, a McKinley County Sheriff’s deputy located a tractor-trailer with heavy front-end damage parked at the Flying J’s Truck Stop nears Jamestown, Francisco wrote.

In an amended statement of probable cause for Jagjeet Singh’s arrest, State Police Agent Larry Reuter wrote that state police officers recovered a blue bumper and a headlight where Copey and the child were killed. Singh, 24, is from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Reuter wrote that State Police arrives “arrived” at the truck stop and saw Singh’s vehicle, which was missing the bumper and headlight, which matched those found on the interstate. Jagjeet Singh and his passenger, Gurcharan Singh, were “detained” and brought to the State Police office in Gallup.

Gurcharan Singh told Reuter that he received a call from Jagjeet Singh at 12:10 a.m., Jan. 20, that he hit a deer and he needed help to replace his headlight. Gurcharan Singh was headed west on I-40 and stopped at the gas station, Reuter wrote.

“Gurcharan told me he was not told anything about Jagjeet hitting a person,” Reuter wrote.

Reuter wrote that he then interrogated Jagjeet Singh, after reading him his Miranda rights. Reuter made no mention of reading him his Miranda rights in any language other than English or that Jagjeet Singh had, or did not have, trouble understanding him.

In court documents, Jagjeet Singh indicated he needs a Punjabi interpreter. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he knew he hit someone who had long, white hair, Reuter wrote.

“Jagjeet confirmed he had observed the person walking from North side of the median and walking Southbound across the highway,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet told me he took the exit at mile marker 16, stopped and looked in his mirror but could not see anyone in his mirror. Jagjeet never called the police and did not stop to look for the person he hit.”

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he called his cousin who asked why someone would be walking in the road and suggested he hit an animal instead. He drove to the truck stop, where he stayed until he was arrested, Reuter wrote. The cousin is not identified in court documents.

“Jagjeet drew a diagram of where his CVE was positioned when he struck the female,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet could not give an answer why he did not call the police or attempt to render aid to the victims he hit.”

When agents searched Jagjeet Singh’s tractor-trailer, they found two bags of a brown powder-like substance weighing 34.8 grams and a white crystalline substance weighing 5.6 grams. The drugs were tested, and came back as heroin and methamphetamine although Reuter did not write what kind of test was conducted, by whom or the presumed accuracy.

Field drug tests “routinely” show false-positive results, according to ProPublica.

Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie initially released Jagjeet Singh on a $100,000 unsecured bond at his first appearance on Jan. 21, 2021. He is set to be arraigned on the amended criminal complaint, which added the drug charges, on Feb. 2, 2021, in front of Magistrate Judge Pat Casados. An interpreter is scheduled for that hearing, according to the docket.

Bound over to district court

On March 4, 2021, following a preliminary hearing, Casados bound over Jagjeet Singh on one count each of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, possession of a controlled substance: heroin, possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Casados dismissed one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, according to her order.

As of March 20, 2021, no district court case appeared to have been created for the case and no court dates were set.

See the case files on Document Cloud or Google Drive.

Past stories

Judge dismisses one hit-and-run charge for man accused of killing woman, her infant, west of Gallup

State Police charge Indianapolis man with running over woman, infant, west of Gallup

Trudy Martinez sentencing postponed after Cibola jail stops transporting inmates

  • Judge William Johnson postponed Trudy Martinez’s sentencing hearing
  • The private Cibola detention center is no longer transporting inmates for in-person court hearings

See the case write-up or read past stories

MILAN, N.M. — Trudy Martinez sentencing hearing, set for Nov. 30, 2020, has been postponed indefinitely because the Cibola County Correctional Center is no longer transporting inmates to courthouses for in-person hearings.

Photo of Trudy Martinez
Trudy Martinez

In an order issued Nov. 24, 2020, federal District Judge William Johnson wrote that suspension in transports is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Court therefore vacates the 11/30/2020 Sentencing hearing pending further notice,” Johnson wrote in the docket.

Martinez, who had been held at the Santa Fe County Detention Center, previously requested her case be continued so that she could have an in-person pre-trial interview, conducted by the probation department to determine what her sentencing guideline should be. It appears she was transferred from Santa Fe on Sept. 18, 2020, according to a jail booking sheet.

Martinez pleaded guilty, March 16, 2020, to voluntary manslaughter and a firearm enhancement for shooting and killing her sister-in-law with an AR-15 in April 2019. Magistrate Judge Paul Briones accepted her plea and deferred final acceptance to the sentencing judge. Federal prosecutor Thomas Aliberti signed the plea deal and filed the criminal information charging her with voluntary manslaughter and the firearm enhancement.

Although Martinez was charged with an open count of murder for shooting her sister-in-law, Cornelia McCabe, 36, Aliberti filed the criminal information charging her with voluntary manslaughter. The case was never presented to a grand jury for an indictment.

Her sentence range is 10 to 15 years. Ten years is the minimum for the firearm enhancement and 15 is the maximum for voluntary manslaughter.

Johnson wrote in an Aug. 18, 2020 order that Martinez is not entitled to an in-person pre-trial interview and that the family of her victim may have to virtually attend the sentencing hearing depending on physical court closures.

Improperly sealed?

It is not clear if the defense or prosecution filed sentencing memorandums in the case.

Martinez’s two defense attorneys, Alonzo Padilla and Irma Rivas, appear to have improperly filed at least one motion under seal and 15 of the docket entries are missing, or 28 percent of the total docket.

The motion to delay Martinez’s sentencing because she wanted to be interviewed in person by probation officers appears to have been filed under seal, although the prosecution opposition to it was not, nor was the judge’s order referencing it.

Padilla did not return a request for comment and information on his presumably sealed motion.

Documents 38 and 39 appear to be sealed, as do documents 42 and 43 and seven documents, starting with 45 and ending with 52. Johnson’s order, continuing the sentencing because of COVID-19, is document 53 and the only public document before that was 44, resetting the sentencing hearing from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2020.

Writing in New Mexico In Depth, Jeff Proctor illuminated a pattern and practice by prosecutors and public defenders to improperly seal documents in federal criminal cases, contrary to local and federal rules on sealing procedures.

“Judges, not lawyers, are supposed to decide which documents are made available to the public and which should remain secret through an established protocol based in part on decades of case law: Attorneys must submit a written request asking a judge to seal records and a judge must consent before records are sealed,” Proctor wrote.

The killing

Investigators talked to McCabe’s daughter who told them she came home from school and saw Martinez outside the house, cleaning up the yard, before she went into the house, FBI Agent Jeffrey Wright wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant.

Martinez first pushed her mother inside the house before going back to her truck to retrieve an AR-15 carbine, which she then loaded in the house. McCabe is referred to as “Jane Doe” in his affidavit.

“DOE attempted to take the rifle away from Martinez,” Wright wrote. “As DOE approached MARTINEZ at the entrance to the Hogan, MARTINEZ pointed the rifle at DOE and fired the weapon two times. The first round missed DOE, but the second round struck DOE in the abdomen, after which DOE fell to the floor.”

Read past stories on this case or see the case documents on Google Drive or Document Cloud

Continue reading “Trudy Martinez sentencing postponed after Cibola jail stops transporting inmates”

Allister Quintana sentencing moved to February 2021 in Dulce torture case

Update: Sentencing has been tentatively moved to March 2021.

• A judge moved Allister Quintana‘s sentencing to Feb. 1, 2021
• The defense’s psychological evaluation should be complete by mid-November
• A defense sentencing memorandum is due by Dec. 15

See the case write-up or previous stories on this case

DULCE, N.M. — A judge moved Allister Quintana’s sentencing to February after he pleaded guilty in January 2020 to second-degree murder for torturing his cousin at his Dulce home and leaving him to die in a locked closet.

Mug of Allister Quintana
Allister Quintana

Quintana’s lawyer, Ray Twohig, wrote in a Nov. 11, 2020 motion to extend the deadlines in the case that he was still missing an evaluation from Christine Johnson, a forensic psychologist who has been unable to personally meet with Quintana at the McKinley County Detention Center, where he is being held.

Johnson’s trouble completing an evaluation of Quintana have been the subject of multiple motions to push off sentencing.

The report was supposed to be completed by Nov. 16, 2020. Twohig should have his sentencing memorandum completed by Dec. 15, 2020, which gives prosecutors until Dec. 29, 2020 to respond.

Although Twohig wrote that Johnson will have the evaluation done by November, she previously “assured” him it would be done by Oct. 14, 2020, according to a previous motion to extend deadlines.

District Court Judge William Johnson granted the extension and set sentencing for 10 a.m., Feb. 1, 2021. Sentencing had previously been set for Jan. 5, 2021. Johnson accepted Twohig’s suggested deadlines for his memorandum and the prosecution’s response.

Prosecutor Joseph Spindle previously asked for a life sentence for Quintana in his own sentencing memorandum, on April 2, 2020.

Quintana, 26, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with second-degree murder on Jan. 22, 2020. His codefendant, Andrew Bettelyoun, 25, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping a year prior, on Jan. 30, 2019.

Quintana and Bettelyoun admitted to torturing Travis Howland, 28, before binding his hands and feet and leaving him, naked, in a closet to die on Feb. 2, 2018 in Quintana’s house, according to court records.

More details on what prosecutors say happened to Howland are in the case write-up.

Although Bettelyoun was supposed to be sentenced in May 2019, court records do not indicate that he was ever sentenced. In his memorandum seeking a life sentence for Quintana, Spindle wrote that Bettelyoun is, under the current sentencing guidelines, slated to receive a harsher sentence than Quintana even though Quintana committed far more egregious acts.

Continue reading “Allister Quintana sentencing moved to February 2021 in Dulce torture case”

Plea set for Tavor Tom in aunt’s stabbing death in Shiprock

• A change of plea hearing is set for Tavor Tom on Nov. 24, 2020
• A grand jury indicted Tom on a charge of second-degree murder for allegedly killing his aunt
• Tom told FBI agents he stabbed her seven to eight times and slit her throat

See the case write-up or read previous stories on the case

SHIPROCK, N.M. —  The Shiprock man who told police he stabbed his aunt and stole her car, before crashing it into a fence on his way to Farmington in 2019, is set for a change of plea hearing on Nov. 24, 2020.

Shiprock in the snow. Photo by Larry Lamsa/Flickr. CC-BY

According to a hearing notice, Tavor Tom, 19, is set for a change of plea hearing at 10 a.m. in front of Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa. The hearing is to be held virtually, via Zoom.

A federal grand jury indicted him on July 9, 2019, on a charge of second-degree murder and his case has been continued at least four times. A jury trial in front of District Judge William Johnson had been set for Jan. 4. 2021.

Tom has been in custody since he was arrested on July 2, 2019. The prosecutor in the case appears to be Joseph Spindle with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

At 10 a.m., July 2, 2019, the victim was found dead in her house by her father. Sometime during that same morning, Tavor Tom was found in the victim’s Jeep Cherokee, after he crashed into a fence in front of a church in Nenahnezad. Navajo Nation police officers found a bloody knife in the car, FBI Agent Cary Cahoon wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant.

During an interrogation, Tom told FBI agents he killed his maternal aunt with a folding knife he took from his father’s vehicle. He intended to go to her house to steal her car so he could drive it to Farmington to steal Mucinex. After he stole it from the store, he drove on the back roads toward Shiprock and he crashed the vehicle into a fence at a church in Nenahnezad. He was found in it the next morning, Cahoon wrote.

For more details on the crash, see the case write-up.

Continue reading “Plea set for Tavor Tom in aunt’s stabbing death in Shiprock”

Autopsy: Chronic alcohol abuse killed man in Cibola jail

Ruben Toledo died in 2017 after being allegedly denied medical care while going through alcohol withdrawal while at the Cibola County Detention Center, in Grants
• Pathologist Matthew Cain found Toledo died from chronic alcohol abuse
The county is being sued for Toledo’s death

Read more about the case in the write-up

GRANTS, N.M. — An Albuquerque man who died seven days after suffering a seizure in the Cibola County Detention Center was killed by chronic alcohol abuse, according to an autopsy report. However, the report makes no mention of the seizures the man suffered, his apparent alcohol withdrawal or his hospitalization and appears to downplay the circumstances of his death.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, N.M. Photo by Angel Schatz/Flickr. CC-BY

Ruben Toledo, 42, died in the University of New Mexico Hospital on July 1, 2017, after being taken off of life support. He was taken to the hospital seven days earlier after going comatose in a shower after suffering multiple apparent seizures.

Office of the Medical Investigator pathologist Matthew Cain wrote, in a heavily redacted autopsy report, that based on the evidence presented to him, Toledo died from chronic alcohol abuse and he had “significant liver disease” and alcoholics are at risk for “metabolic abnormalities” and withdrawal complications.

Toledo’s wife, Natalia Antonio, filed a lawsuit against Cibola County on June 20, 2019. Attorney Alyssa Quijano named warden Adrianne Jaramillo, nurse Michael Hildenbrant, Sgt. Lisa Burnside and physician’s assistant Michelle Lucero as defendants in the lawsuit, in addition to Cibola County.

Quijana wrote in the lawsuit that Toledo collapsed from a seizure in his cell, causing a head wound, on June 24, 2017. He died in the hospital seven days later, on July 1, 2017, after being taken off of life support.

There is no mention of that fall in the autopsy report, the seizures that caused it or that Toledo never regained consciousness after he was transported out of the jail.

Much of the allegations in the lawsuit center around Toledo going through alcohol withdrawal, which is often deadly.

Despite evidence of alcohol withdrawal in the lawsuit, it is not mentioned in the autopsy report, except as a perfunctory note in the summary and opinion that it can cause seizures and death. Neither Cain’s report nor the deputy field investigation by Tom Conklin makes mention of the seizures Toledo suffered, as noted in the wrongful death lawsuit, although it is unclear what was redacted.

Cain wrote that Toledo had no evidence of “significant” injury. However, in the evidence of injuries section of the autopsy report, he listed three wounds on Toledo:

  • A blunt head injury. “Healing laceration on forehead”
  • On the chest: “Faint, black, 7 cm contusion on left side of chest”
  • On the extremities: “Abrasions on left knee.”

Toledo suffered a head wound seven days before he died, Quijana wrote in the lawsuit complaint.

The narrative of the deputy field investigation, by Tom Conklin, is redacted except for two-and-a-half sentences. It makes no mention of seizures or Toledo’s fall:

“Seth advised that the decedent had been incarcerated in the Cibola County Detention Center. The decedent was found shaking on the shower floor. He became unresponsive and bystander (REDACTED).”

The lawsuit

The lawsuit against Cibola County, filed on June 20, 2019, outlines alleged abuses and neglect at the hands of jail guards and medical staff at the jail.

Toledo was initially arrested on June 21, 2017, after being found allegedly drunk in his truck at the federal Petroglyph National Monument. U.S. Park Ranger Steven Powers arrested him on charges of DUI, possession of alcohol in a vehicle and possession of a controlled substance and booked him into the Sandoval County Detention Center, according to federal court documents.

Federal Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa ordered Toledo held without bail during an initial appearance, at the request of U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutor Nicholas Ganjei. Toledo had no attorney. The entire hearing lasted for five minutes, according to a minutes sheet.

Toledo was transferred from the Sandoval jail to Cibola. His condition quickly worsened until he suffered an alcohol-induced seizure on June 24, observed by Sgt. Lisa Burnside. Toledo could no longer speak and he had dried blood on his forehead, Quijana wrote in the lawsuit complaint.

Burnside ordered guards to take Toledo, incapable of walking, to a shower to clean up while she looked for a clean cell. Guards carried him there and placed him on the ground, Quijana wrote.

“Ruben slumped over on the ground and became unresponsive,” she wrote.

Guards didn’t call for medical staff immediately but once they did, they told the guards to call 911 and started CPR. Once he left the jail, he would never regain consciousness, Quijana wrote.

District Judge Kenneth Gonzales dismissed count one of the lawsuit filed against Hildenbrant and Lucero for violation of due process and inadequate medical care, on the grounds they are entitled to qualified immunity.

motion to dismiss filed by the county is pending.

Downplayed events

The narrative outlined in the lawsuit compares starkly with the outline Cain and Conklin noted in the autopsy report and the deputy field investigation.

In the field investigation, Conklin wrote Toledo was “found shaking on the shower floor.” What happened next is redacted.

In Cain’s summary and opinion, he used the same sentence, that Toledo was “found shaking on the shower floor.” Again, what happened next is redacted.

That compares starkly with the lawsuit allegations, that guards carried Toledo into the shower and he slumped over. Guards then lifted Toledo into a chair and eventually called for medical help, according to the lawsuit.

Neither Cain’s autopsy report not Conklin’s field investigation mention that Toledo was taken to a local hospital, and then to the University of New Mexico hospital, after he lost consciousness at the jail.

Both documents also do not mention that Toledo died after being taken off of life support.

Continue reading “Autopsy: Chronic alcohol abuse killed man in Cibola jail”