Murder suspect accused of whittling weapon

Steve Garrison
Rick Stallings

FARMINGTON – Rick Stallings, an inmate at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center awaiting trial on murder charges, was accused last week of whittling a weapon from a pair of glasses.

Stallings, 50, of Farmington, was charged Dec. 21 in Aztec Magistrate Court with possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner, a second-degree felony.

A deputy from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office was sent to the detention center on Dec. 16 after receiving reports that a search of Stallings' cell turned up the pair of glasses with an earpiece sharpened to an edged point, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Stallings was the lone occupant of the cell, which he was assigned to the day after his arrest on murder charges on Oct. 5, the affidavit states.

Stallings declined to answer questions regarding the glasses, the affidavit states. Sheriff's office detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln said the incident remains under investigation, but there is evidence to suggest Stallings made threats before the weapon was found.

Lincoln declined to say against whom the threats were made or describe their nature.

Jail Administrator Tom Havel referred questions to Daniel Webb, the deputy administrator at the detention center. Webb could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Stallings, 50, is accused of shooting Karen Cugnini to death on Oct. 1 at her residence on County Road 3050 in Flora Vista. Detectives suspect the murder was the result of a botched robbery at the residence. Detective said numerous items belonging to Cugnini were found in the residence on Ouray Avenue where Stallings was arrested.

Attorney Tom Clark, who is representing Stallings in the murder case, confirmed Wednesday he will also defend Stallings against the new charges, but said he did not yet know enough about the case to comment. According to Clark, Stallings was set to appear at a preliminary examination hearing Tuesday, but it was delayed until Jan. 7.

Clark said he has requested that the murder trial for Stallings take place outside San Juan County due to the continued press coverage the case is likely to receive.

"I can't imagine the press letting up on its interest in Rick Stallings," Clark said.

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

Rick Stallings, an inmate at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, is accused of whittling a pair of eyeglasses into an improvised weapon.