FARMINGTON — Authorities are trying to determine if the man charged with drunken-driving in the traffic death of a woman Wednesday night had a previous DWI homicide conviction in a highly publicized case.

Police arrested Joe Raymond Gallegos Wednesday after he allegedly struck the woman, identified as Delandra Pioche, 32, about 5:15 p.m. on Main Street and Court Avenue.

Gallegos has been charged with homicide by vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident, tampering with evidence, possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute and aggravated DWI.

Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy said police suspect Gallegos is the same man who was arrested in July of 2003 and convicted of DWI homicide.

On July 27, 2003, a man named Joe Raymond Gallegos was arrested and charged with DWI homicide in the death of Manuel Ruiz, 28, and Joseph Vigil, 49. Vigil was a former superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools and Ruiz was Gallegos’ half brother, according to news reports.

The man arrested in the 2003 fatal incident has the same first, middle and last name and the same birth date as the man arrested by Farmington police Wednesday night, according to the district attorney’s office in Torrance County.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien said the district attorney’s office in Farmington has not confirmed if it is the same man in both fatal incidents.

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The Joe Gallegos involved in the Torrance County fatalities pleaded no contest to DWI homicide in April 2004 in Estancia District Court and was sentenced to seven years in prison and five years of probation, according to a state court website.

A state corrections official said Thursday that Joe Gallegos was released from prison in March 2011.
In Wednesday’s fatality, Pioche was picking something up in the road when she was struck, police said.

Witnesses told police Pioche was thrown into the air and then run over.

Several people told police the woman was dragged more than 30 feet before the vehicle stopped, according to court documents.

Pioche lived off of South Wagner Avenue, a few blocks from where she was killed, Tracy said.

Gallegos, a contract driver for The Daily Times, fled to a nearby mobile home that was parked behind Fast Freddie’s Auto, immediately after the accident, police said.

He was arrested by police on suspicion of DWI, Tracy said. He allegedly failed a field sobriety test and appeared to be under the influence of narcotics, police said.

 Police obtained a search warrant for the mobile home Wednesday night and found 15.5 grams of heroin and 13.5 grams of cocaine, Tracy said.

He was booked into San Juan County Adult Detention Center early Thursday morning.

Gallegos appeared before Farmington Magistrate Judge Stanley King on Thursday morning.

King said he considered Gallegos a flight risk and a danger to the community and set bail at $500,000 cash.

Pioche was the second traffic fatality Farmington police have responded to this year.

Andrew Pope, 18, was killed Aug. 2 when he turned his car onto Pinon Hills Boulevard from Butler Avenue and was struck by a truck.