New Mexico man convicted of beating deaths of 2 transients

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Man found guilty in beating death of homeless men.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. A jury convicted a 20-year-old man Wednesday of beating two homeless men to death with cinder blocks and other items as they slept last year in Albuquerque. The man, Alex Rios, was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in the attack on Allison Gorman, 44, and Kee Thompson, 46, in a vacant lot. But the jury didn’t find the now 20-year-old guilty of the most serious charge. “Obviously they didn’t think he was as culpable as the other two and I think they sent a clear message that in a situation like this, the public expects people do more than just stand by,” said Defense Attorney, Daniel Salazar. Each count carries a potential 15-year sentence, and prosecutors say they plan to seek the most stringent sentence possible, with the terms running consecutively instead of at the same time.

The attack led the city’s mayor to establish a task force on Native American homelessness, though prosecutors have not said the victims were targeted because of their race. Now 16, the youngest suspect testified during Rios’ jury trial, saying they and another teen began beating the men after a night of drinking at a house party. He didn’t do all kinds of a thousand things that he should have done, and the jury didn’t cut him any slack because he was a young man.” Second-degree murder carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, but the defense says Rios could still face life in prison because of the other charges he was convicted of. They include armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, tampering with evidence, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and multiple counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon — including a board, a table leg and a cinder block — surrounding the mattress and dirt area where Gorman and Thompson were sleeping before the attack. He is expected to testify against the third youth, Nathaniel Carrillo, though Carrillo’s lawyers said Wednesday they will seek court permission to probe Tafoya’s mental health at the time based on his trial testimony.

Salazar, in cross-examination of Tafoya, kept up a monotonous drumbeat of questioning on each tiny detail that required Tafoya to say over and over that he had lied to police repeatedly. In a video of a police interview shown at trial, Rios tells detectives that he was asleep or blacked out while the beatings were taking place, and when he ultimately admits involvement says he just shoved one of the men down and acted as lookout for Tafoya and Carrillo.

Testimony by forensic pathologists who handle the men’s autopsies showed that the savagery of the beatings, particularly on the victims’ faces, was so awful that even gender couldn’t be discerned at first.

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