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FARMINGTON — A 56-year-old Farmington man is being held at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on a $100,000 bond in connection to the near-fatal stabbing of a man near the Farmington Indian Center.

Leonard Russell was charged in Farmington Magistrate Court on Monday with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and tampering with evidence.

Russell is accused of stabbing Ernest Begay Jr., who police transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center shortly after midnight on Monday with life-threatening wounds.

Hospital spokeswoman Roberta Rogers said Begay, 34, was in fair condition as of Wednesday afternoon.

Russell and a second man, Lester Simpson, were found walking near the corner of South Behrend Avenue and West Elm Street shortly after the stabbing, according to an arrest warrant.

Simpson told police Russell stabbed Begay in the chest, and he led police to the location where Russell allegedly ditched the knife, the warrant states.

Russell admitted to stabbing Begay in the chest, saying Begay had bullied him and other friends, the warrant states.

He told a detective he and Begay had gotten into an altercation at a nearby gas station before the incident.

Simpson told a detective Russell said before stabbing Begay, "Let's go kill that guy and put an end to his life," according to the complaint.

According to court records, Russell was previously charged in April 2007 with false imprisonment, assault with intent to commit a violent felony, interference with communications and attempted criminal sexual contact.

He pleaded no contest to the false imprisonment and assault charges in October 2007, records state.

Russell is expected to appear at a preliminary examination hearing on Dec. 24.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.

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