Trial to begin for co-defendant in Hopi Street shooting

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The trial is set to begin today for one of the two men charged in connection to the Hopi Street shooting in July 2013.

Lawrence Kellywood is charged with attempted first-degree murder, shooting at an occupied building (causing death or great bodily harm), aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to court records.

Kellywood, 28, was previously charged with first-degree felony murder in the slaying of Christopher Valdez, but the charge was dismissed by Chief District Judge John Dean in February 2014.

Dean ruled that the state could not pursue felony murder charges against Kellywood and codefendant Levi Wilson unless prosecutors could prove that one of the two men fired the fatal bullet that killed Valdez on July 27, 2013.

Valdez was killed in a shootout near the intersection of Orchard Avenue and Hopi Street that allegedly involved Kellywood, Wilson and Michael Tafoya.

Prosecutors allege that Kellywood and Wilson went to Tafoya's residence on Hopi Street, knocked on his door and then began firing at Tafoya and into his apartment. Tafoya returned fire, and wayward bullets killed Valdez, an innocent bystander, and wounded Kathleen Keck, a woman in Tafoya's house.

The San Juan County District Attorney's Office initially appealed Dean's decision on the felony murder charge, arguing the judge's decision created bad public policy. That appeal was withdrawn in December.

In March, Kellywood's attorney, Cindy Leos, of Albuquerque, requested that Dean reduce her client's bond or allow his release without bond in advance of his trial. That request was denied on April 24, according to court records.

Kellywood's trial is scheduled to conclude Friday, court records state.

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.