Aztec man charged with manslaughter in Farmington man's death

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A 25-year-old Aztec man was accused last week of killing Brandon Manchester in a fist fight in October.

Shawn Pickerill was charged Friday in Farmington Magistrate Court with voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery, both third-degree felonies.

Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a person in the heat of passion without malice, according to criminal statutes. It is punishable by up to six years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen said Pickerill was arrested Tuesday on a warrant. He is being held at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on a $20,000 bond, according to court records.

As reported by The Daily Times in February, the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator determined on Jan. 19 that Manchester, 32, of Farmington, died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, and his death was ruled a homicide.

According to the arrest warrant, Manchester was at a gathering at an east Farmington residence on the night of Oct. 18 when the fight occurred. Manchester and several other people, including Pickerill, were invited to the home after attending a rosary for Cole Canon. According to an obituary, Canon died Oct. 11 at age 22.

Homeowner Christopher Canon and several other guests told detectives that Manchester was drunk and belligerent when he arrived at the residence and was trying to pick a fight, according to the warrant.

Pickerill told detectives Manchester approached him twice during the night and challenged him to a fight, but he refused. Pickerill said Manchester challenged him a third time in the early morning hours on Oct. 19, and he punched Manchester in the face, according to the warrant.

He then admitted to getting on top of Manchester and punching him three or four more times in the head, the warrant states.

Pickerill told police he drank approximately 18 beers throughout the night, according to the warrant.

Christopher Canon told detectives he tackled Pickerill and pulled him off of Manchester.

He said Pickerill then left the residence, and he and his wife discussed how to get Manchester, who was bleeding profusely from the face, to a hospital, the warrant states.

Christopher Canon said about 10 minutes after the fight, they noticed that Manchester was having problems breathing, according to the warrant.

Manchester's friend, Bryan Canon, performed CPR on the man before paramedics arrived and transported him to San Juan Regional Medical Center, the warrant states.

No one answered the door at the address listed for Christopher Canon on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the autopsy report, Manchester was admitted to the hospital with cardiac arrest and acute alcohol intoxication. He spent two days in the intensive care unit and was pronounced dead Oct. 21, the autopsy states.

It took medical examiners several months to determine what killed Manchester, the arrest warrant states, and it was only after a panel of doctors reviewed the evidence on Jan. 12 that the homicide determination was made.

Prosecutors then spent the next several months determining whether to bring criminal charges against Pickerill.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said Tuesday that he believes the facts in the case support the charges brought against Pickerill.

The court has not yet appointed an attorney to represent Pickerill, according to court records, and he has not yet retained private representation.

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.