Attorneys argue custody issues in Farmington attempted murder case

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

AZTEC — Attorney Arlon Stoker argued Thursday at a motion hearing in favor of suppressing statements made by his client, Levi Wilson, shortly after a shooting on Hopi Street in July 2013 that killed Christopher Valdez.

Stoker claimed at the hearing that Wilson, 32, was not read his rights or capable of answering questions when detectives interviewed him at the San Juan Regional Medical Center shortly after the shooting and in the days that followed.

Therefore, incriminating statements Wilson made while hospitalized, and the search warrant issued based on those statements, should be suppressed, Stoker said.

Wilson and codefendant Lawrence Kellywood are accused of shooting wildly into a residence at 101 Hopi St. on July 27, 2013, causing several injuries and the death of Valdez.

At the hearing, Stoker grilled Farmington police detectives Heather Chavez, Daven Badoni and Jason Solomon regarding their interrogative tactics, attempting to show that Wilson was in police custody at the hospital and therefore should have been read his Miranda rights.

Assistant District Attorney Ron Brambl pointed out that Wilson was never handcuffed at the hospital and, despite his injuries, he was free to leave or stop answering questions.

"He was not in custody," Badoni asserted during testimony. "We were trying to figure out what was going on with him and his involvement with the others."

Chief District Judge John Dean said he would make a decision on the suppression motion by Friday. However, he could not be reached for comment at his office on Friday afternoon.

Stoker said Friday he had not heard from the judge regarding his motion.

A jury trial that was expected to begin for Wilson on Tuesday has been delayed.

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