AZTEC — More than two months after her naked body was found stabbed to death in a rural area off of N.M. Highway 371, a man has been charged with murder in the death of Brandy Robinson.
Cody Soto, 24, of Bloomfield, was charged Tuesday night with an open count of murder, assault against a household member and two counts of tampering with evidence. Soto was served a copy of his arrest warrant at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, where he is being held on suspicion of assaulting Robinson a week before he allegedly killed her.
Soto and Robinson, 29, were in a relationship and lived together at at least three different addresses in the months before her death, said San Juan County Sheriff's Office Detective Candice Montoya, the lead detective in the case.
On June 13, deputies were called to a home where the couple was living on County Road 5060 after Soto allegedly body-slammed Robinson on a cement driveway, according to court documents. He was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery.
Soto was released from jail June 20. Investigators believe Soto killed Robinson in an area near where she was found later that night.
Robinson told deputies the night of the alleged domestic violence incident that she was leaving Soto, Montoya said. But Robinson reportedly told friends via Facebook that Soto had threatened to kill her if she tried to leave him.
When Soto was released from jail, he sent Robinson Facebook messages pleading to meet with her.
"Maybe this can be a reality check for women in domestic violence situations," Montoya said. "Sometimes, when a man says he is going to kill you, he really means it."
Robinson was stabbed at least 22 times, and she also had cuts all over her body. She was stabbed in the throat, and her lungs were punctured.
Her body was found June 22 near the intersection to Head Canyon. Investigators believe she was killed nearby, but have not recovered the murder weapon, the clothes Robinson was wearing at the time of her death or her cell phone, according to court documents.
Montoya said Soto was quickly identified as a person of interest in Robinson's death.
Other men who Robinson had prior relationships with and who spent time with her in her final days were also investigated.
One of those men was Michael Graham, 40. Graham was one of Robinson's ex-boyfriends. The sheriff's office identified him as a "person of interest" in Robinson's death shortly into the investigation. He was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm after investigators said they found guns and homemade explosives in his possession while they executed search warrants in connection to the death investigation. Sheriff's office Detective Lt. Cory Tanner said there is no evidence that Graham participated in Robinson's slaying.
The evidence against Soto includes his own statements. In interviews with investigators in July, Soto admitted to stabbing Robinson. But Montoya said Soto also took back his statements and later said that he was only one of several men who stabbed Robinson.
Investigators rearrested Soto in mid-July after he failed to appear in court in connection to the domestic violence charges from the June 13 incident.
While at the detention center, investigators said an inmate told police that Soto confessed to killing Robinson.
According to court documents, a hat that Robinson was seen wearing the night she disappeared was also found hidden in a room where Soto was staying after he was released from jail, and he had scratches on his wrist that may have been caused by a victim defending themselves against a stabbing.
Montoya said she and other investigators have proven over the last two months that it was Soto -- and not a group of people, as he suggested -- who killed Robinson.
Robinson's family, which includes her three young children, was happy to hear that a man had been charged in connection to the killing.
Brandy Robinson's mother, Tammy Robinson, said spending two months waiting for news on the homicide has been "devastating."
"You don't know who did it or what's going on," she said. "There are so many emotions going on that it was hard for me and my husband to even talk."
Tammy Robinson said the family was "disturbed" to learn that investigators think Soto is the killer.
She said after Brandy Robinson's body was found, Soto called her home frequently, stopped by several times and attended a memorial service for Robinson.
She said Soto tried several times to tell the family that he never touched Robinson.
"How sick and demented can you be?" she said. "Obviously he is a really, really bad person."Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.