Three brothers accused of slaying Fruitland man

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Two brothers have been charged with murder and a third brother is in custody in connection to the March 21 slaying of Brandon BlueEyes in Fruitland.

Maynard Shirley, 36, was charged Friday in federal court with murder and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Elijah Shirley, 29, was charged Wednesday with the same offenses, according to court records, and the case was unsealed Thursday. FBI Public Affairs Specialist Frank Fisher confirmed Friday that a third co-defendant, Michael Shirley, was arrested Thursday night in connection to the slaying. An arraignment date for Michael Shirley has not been scheduled, Fisher said.

According to a criminal complaint, the brothers are accused of forcing entry into Brandon BlueEyes' trailer in Fruitland at approximately 2:45 a.m. Saturday, March 21 and stabbing the 30-year-old man to death as he fought for his life.

The brothers also allegedly stabbed BlueEyes' father, Perry BlueEyes, during the attack, but the father survived, the complaint states.

Several family members were asleep in the residence when the incident occurred and identified the Shirley brothers as the attackers, according to the complaint.

One family member told detectives that Brandon BlueEyes had recently begun dating Elijah Shirley's ex-girlfriend, and she suspected that was the brothers' motive for slaying Brandon BlueEyes.

Elijah Shirley turned himself in to Shiprock police Sunday and denied knowledge of the stabbing, the complaint states.

His brothers fled the area after burning a family vehicle, according to the complaint.

Maynard Shirley was arrested with his fiancee, Arnelia Williams, on Wednesday.

Williams, 25, was charged Friday with aiding and abetting an accessory after the fact.

Family and friends of Brandon BlueEyes packed a courtroom at the Farmington Municipal Courthouse Friday to witness Maynard Shirley's arraignment hearing.

Brandon BlueEyes' aunt, Faye BlueEyes, said after the hearing the family was grateful for the efforts of law enforcement personnel, as well as the emotional and financial support they have received from the community.

"No family should have to go through this tragedy," she said. "The way our family member was murdered was just inhumane."

Faye BlueEyes said her brother, Perry BlueEyes, was out of the hospital and recovering from his injuries.

Shannon BlueEyes said in a statement earlier this week that her brother was a kind, loving man who made his family and friends a priority in his life. He was a passionate fan of the Dallas Cowboys, according to an obituary, and enjoyed spicy foods, paintballing and fishing.

Donations to help the family pay funeral expenses can be made at

All three of the Shirley brothers have had previous run-ins with law enforcement, according to court records.

According to The Daily Times archive, Michael Shirley was charged in February 2006 with extreme cruelty to animals after drunkenly killing the family's cat and throwing the carcass into a fire.

He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of cruelty to animals and was sentenced to 120 days of supervised probation, according to court records.

Maynard Shirley was convicted in 1997 in Aztec District Court of auto burglary, according to court records, and sentenced to three years in prison.

New Mexico Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alex Tomlin said his sentence was extended by 18 months after he was convicted in March 1998 of attempting to escape from the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs. He was released from jail in February 2000, Tomlin said.

In 2002, he was convicted of aggravated assault in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona, according to court records. He was convicted of burglary in 2004 in Navajo County Superior Court.

Elijah Shirley has been convicted of drunk driving four times, most recently in June 2010, according to court records. He is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing in Albuquerque on Monday.

Maynard Shirley and Williams will make their next court appearance on Tuesday.

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.