Aaron Thomas, 27, sentenced to 16 years in prison

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FARMINGTON — A 27-year-old Farmington man was sentenced on Monday to 16 years in prison after his August conviction on multiple counts of aggravated battery.

Aaron Thomas pleaded guilty at a court hearing on Aug. 17 to two counts of aggravated battery as a third-degree felony on accusations he stabbed two women — Sharell Smith and Summer Poyer — at a residence in Fruitland on Nov. 24.

Both women were treated at San Juan Regional Medical Center and survived the attack, but Thomas' attorney, Cosme Ripol, said Monday it could have been fatal.

"The state of New Mexico could have charged Mr. Thomas with attempted murder charges, which are greatly more significant," Ripol said. "Indeed, if not for the heroic efforts of San Juan Regional hospital and the Grace of God, my client Mr. Thomas should have been facing a murder charge."

Ripol said that, given the circumstances, the sentence was reasonable.

Thomas also entered an Alford plea, similar to a no contest plea, at the August hearing to five counts of aggravated battery upon a peace officer for his role in the Dec. 28 riot at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

Thomas allegedly attacked a guard attempting to break up a fight between two other inmates during the early morning hours on Dec. 28. More guards and inmates joined the brawl, which resulted in local law enforcement officers being dispatched to the jail.

Thomas' attorney in the jailhouse brawl case, Peter Giovannini, previously said the evidence against his client was "very compelling."

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the sentence handed down by district court Judge Karen Townsend was the maximum allowable under the terms of the plea agreement.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644. 

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