Testimony centers on man's death in Hopi Street shooting trial

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

AZTEC — The 15-year-old brother-in-law of victim Christopher Valdez described how his relative was shot dead in July 2013 during his testimony Wednesday at the trial of Lawrence Kellywood, who is accused of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and other offenses in the incident.

Trevor Matlock told the jury on the first day of the three-day trial that he and Valdez were sitting outside Valdez's residence on July 27, 2013, when he heard gunshots about three houses away. He testified he saw one person wearing a hooded sweatshirt firing a handgun into a duplex at 101 E. Hopi St.

"Chris got up and went toward the apartment," Matlock said. "Shortly thereafter, I followed." He said when they arrived outside the residence, an individual began shooting at them from a window, and they fled.

"We were running toward Orchard, and (Valdez) said he was shot," Matlock said, choking on his words.

Valdez collapsed in the road, dead of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Farmington police detective Donovan Stearns was a patrol officer in July 2013 and was the first officer on the scene after Valdez was shot. He told the jury that when he arrived on the scene, there was a group of men standing around Valdez. It was about 8:37 p.m., but the sun had not yet set. He said he learned where the shots came from and parked his patrol car between 101 E. Hopi St. and Valdez's body. The men were waved away from the scene, but one person remained and attempted to staunch Valdez's bleeding wound.

Stearns said two men eventually exited the residence — David Anderson and Michael Tafoya. A woman, Kathleen Keck, was found by police in the residence bleeding from several gunshot wounds.

Defense attorney Cindy Leos told the jury during her opening statement Wednesday that Tafoya, who rented the apartment at 101 E. Hopi St., was "a guy who had people out to get him."

"This is Mr. Tafoya's mindset before the shooting: He is paranoid and carries guns all the time," Leos said.

Leos said that, over the course of the trial, she would present evidence that showed Tafoya started shooting at Kellywood first, injuring Kellywood and Keck. Tafoya also fired the shot that killed Valdez, Leos claimed.

"He shoots up that neighborhood," Leos said. "He shoots for minutes, until that gun is empty."

Anderson, Tafoya's friend and a former coworker, testified during cross-examination Wednesday that he had known Tafoya to sell marijuana, and they often smoked together.

"We would hang out and smoke pot," Anderson said. "But we weren't out causing trouble."

Anderson, 36, told the jury on the night of July 27, 2013, he was at the residence with Tafoya and Keck, both of whom were drinking.

He said Keck went outside to make a phone call, and there was a loud, aggressive knock on the door, which Anderson described as a "cop knock." Tafoya eventually opened the door, and Anderson said a suspicious man in a "gold-beige hoodie" was standing there. The man did not answer any questions, Anderson said, and had his right hand hidden behind his back.

"I could tell it was about to hit the fan," Anderson said. "I take two steps toward the bedroom, I see a gun case on the bed, and then I hear an insane amount of bullets."

Anderson escaped to the bedroom and hid under Tafoya's bed.

"I didn't even bring a knife to this gun fight," he said. "I hid under the bed. I figured I was dead."

Anderson called police from the bedroom and when he finally went back to the living room, Keck was bleeding profusely on the floor.

"She looked like she was bleeding to death to me," he said.

Keck, 28, told the jury that she was shot in the arm and chest.

She said she was standing in an alley next to the residence talking to her sister on the phone when the shooting started.

She walked around the side to see what was happening and spotted a white man with longer hair.

"I mouthed to him, 'What the f---'?'" Keck said, assuming he was a friend of Tafoya.

She said the man, who matches a description for Kellywood's co-defendant Levi Wilson, eventually fled, and she tried to enter the residence.

She heard gunfire, but said she was not certain if she was shot while entering the residence or if she had been shot earlier.

Keck said she and Tafoya currently are dating, but in July 2013, they were going through a rough patch. Keck admitted that a week before the shootout, she and Tafoya had fought and during a struggle over his firearm, her dog was shot and killed. She also admitted that Tafoya sold marijuana and said he kept a large amount of it in the residence.

Kellywood is charged with attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit 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 and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Kellywood was initially charged with first-degree murder, but presiding Judge John Dean ruled in February 2014 that Kellywood could not be held responsible for Valdez's death since prosecutors could not prove that either he or Wilson fired the fatal bullet.

Tafoya is expected to testify today. The trial is expected to conclude Friday.

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.