Judge orders trial for man accused in deadly double stabbing in Farmington

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Kimberly Nez tearfully recounted Wednesday what happened the night her boyfriend was fatally stabbed just outside downtown Farmington.

Nez, 23, of Farmington, was testifying as part of a preliminary examination hearing for Zack Tsosie, the man accused of killing her boyfriend, Chancellor Tso, on March 13.

"He went straight down," Nez said about Tso. "He curled up. He curled up and was holding his chest. That is when I knew (Tsosie) had a knife."

Nez also was stabbed repeatedly during the late-night encounter on North Airport Drive, but managed to escape and call police from the 7-to-11 at 800 W. Main St.

Tsosie was arrested near the scene of the stabbing and charged March 16 in Farmington Magistrate Court with an open count of murder, attempted murder and tampering with evidence.

San Juan County Deputy District Attorney Michael Sanchez added one count of witness intimidation to the charges at Wednesday's hearing.

Nez was one of several witnesses who testified at the hearing.

Farmington police detective Donovan Stearns also was questioned by both Sanchez and defense attorney Thomas Clark about his investigation into the stabbing.

Stearns said Tsosie was intoxicated when he was placed under arrest shortly before midnight on March 13, which delayed questioning until 3 or 4 in the morning.

He said Tsosie slept on the floor of the interrogation room during that time, which seemed to help sober him up.

Tsosie largely denied knowing what happened, Stearns said, but police found a 6- or 7-inch throwing knife in his hooded sweatshirt during questioning, and Tsosie had blood on his pants.

Both items are waiting to be sent to a lab for DNA testing, Steans said.

Tsosie was further identified by Nez as the attacker in a photo array.

Nez said at the preliminary hearing that she and Tso, who she referred to as "Lucky," had been drinking during the morning on March 13. They ran into friends in the afternoon and slept for a while at the Journey Inn Motel, located less than a block from the scene of the stabbing.

She said they left the motel at approximately 11 p.m. and ran into Tsosie on a bridge near the intersection of North Airport Drive and West Arrington Street.

Tso and Tsosie talked for a while, she said, but she urged her boyfriend to continue on with her.

Pointing toward Tsosie, she said, "That is when this dude right here came up behind (Tso) and said, 'What is your beef?' and hit me."

She said she did not realize it at the time, but Tsosie had stabbed her.

She began walking away, but when she turned back around, she said she saw Tsosie stab her boyfriend in the chest.

Jackie Rascon, a witness who lives in a trailer park on Airport Drive, testified at the hearing that she saw the altercation.

"I thought he pushed him down," she said. "It was all so fast"

Nez said she tried to flee, but Tsosie caught up with her and forced her to the ground.

"He said, 'I killed your boyfriend, and now I'm going to kill you,'" Nez recalled.

She said at one point, he forced her hand onto his knife and told her to stab him.

"He wrapped my hand around the blade, and he put his hand around mine real tight," Nez said. "He turned the blade toward himself, toward his heart, and he said, 'Do it. Do it.'"

She said he was laughing throughout the altercation, claiming that she would be held responsible for her boyfriend's death since her fingerprints were on the knife.

She eventually managed to escape and call police at 7-to-11, at which point she realized she had been stabbed several times.

She told Clark during a tense cross-examination that she had 30 staples in her chest and abdomen as a result of the stabbing.

Nez cursed loudly in disbelief during Rascon's testimony and was thrown out of the courtroom by Hawkinson.

In his closing statement, Clark did not argue against there being sufficient evidence to charge Tsosie with the murder of Tso and the attempted murder of Nez.

However, he argued that Tsosie was far too intoxicated to intentionally hide the knife allegedly used in the slaying and, thus, should not be charged with tampering with evidence.

"This is a man so drunk he fell asleep on the floor of the evidence room," he said.

Hawkinson disagreed and found that their was sufficient evidence to charge Tsosie on all counts, which means the case can proceed to trial.

An arraignment hearing in district court has not yet been scheduled, according to court records.

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.