Defendant in Sycamore Street shooting waives preliminary hearing

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The 20-year-old Farmington man charged in the fatal shooting of Seth Stallings in September 2014 waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Attorney Eric Morrow of the Morrow & Pettus law firm is representing Juanito Cordova, who was charged May 1 in Farmington Magistrate Court with murder and evidence tampering.

Morrow said in exchange for his client waiving his right to a preliminary hearing, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the evidence tampering charge, a third-degree felony.

Cordova will also be charged with an open count of murder instead of first-degree murder, Morrow said.

In Cordova's defense, Morrow said that the Farmington Police Department already erroneously arrested and charged one person in connection to the Sept. 3 shooting of Stallings, referring to the arrest of 17-year-old Rafael Velasquez on Sept. 4.

"I don't think the second time is the charm," Morrow said.

Morrow also alleged that police and jail guards used illegal tactics in an attempt to turn Cordova into an informant. He provided The Daily Times a tort claim notice he sent to San Juan County on May 20. In the notice, Morrow claims Cordova is in danger of attack at the jail because he is a potential witness in several criminal cases.

Despite that, Morrow claims guards placed Cordova into the jail's general population in order to coerce him into cooperating with Farmington police. Cordova was attacked by other inmates as a result of his placement, according to Morrow.

"By policy, he was not supposed to be put in the general population," Morrow said. "He got roughed up."

Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen declined to comment on the allegations. Jail Administrator Tom Havel also declined to comment, citing the potential for litigation.

According to an arrest warrant, Cordova allegedly confessed to Bloomfield and Farmington police detectives on April 2 that he shot Stallings, 22, on Sept. 3 at a residence at 306 Sycamore St.

Cordova was one of two persons of interest in the shooting, according to authorities, and was identified by another witness, William "Scrappy" Wilson, as being at the scene when Stallings died.

Police tried to question Cordova in the weeks after the shooting, but he refused to answer questions without an attorney present.

He later agreed to answer questions while incarcerated at the La Plata County jail in Colorado, but claimed Wilson shot Stallings while he was outside the residence searching for a missing piece of jewelry.

On April 2, Cordova told detectives that he "felt bad" about shooting Stallings and killed him on the day in question because he was tired of being "punked," the warrant states.

He claimed that he sold the firearm he used in the shooting for drugs and discarded his clothing, according to the warrant.

An arraignment date for Cordova 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 Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.