Attorney cites ties between local murders

Steve Garrison

FARMINGTON – An attorney has raised the question in court filings of whether the unsolved murder of a man in September is linked to the slaying of Brandy Robinson in June 2013.

Cody Soto

Liane Kerr is representing Cody Soto, who is set to appear at trial Tuesday on allegations he fatally stabbed Robinson, 29, on June 22, 2013, and dumped her nude body at a remote location near the Bisti Highway.

Kerr claims in a motion to dismiss filed Monday that there are significant similarities between Robinson's death and the death of 61-year-old Dalton Ford, whose body was found covered in blood on Sept. 14 at the Rimrock Lodge in Farmington.

Kerr states in the motion both victims were found nude and died as a result of multiple stab wounds.

Ford's body was discovered the day Soto's murder trial initially was set to begin.

Kerr notes Dalton Ford and his son, Travis Ford, were interviewed by police in connection to Robinson's death. Robinson and her two young daughters stayed with Travis Ford on the night of June 18, 2013 — four days before her death, according to an investigative report.

Travis Ford told detectives at the San Juan County Sheriff's Office that he and Robinson had a sexual relationship, the report states.

Text messages were also exchanged between Robinson and both Fords, according to the report.

Dalton Ford was found dead shortly after 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 14 in room No. 153 at the Rimrock Lodge, 2530 E. Bloomfield Highway, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Ford was naked and covered in blood, but no specific cause of death is indicated in the affidavit. Blood was also visible throughout the motel room, the affidavit states.

Among other items in the room, detectives found three pairs of women's blue jeans, a driver's license for Travis Ford, various drug paraphernalia and $3,500 in cash, according to the affidavit.

Kerr notes in the motion that the presence of cash indicates robbery was not a motive in Dalton Ford's slaying.

Farmington police detective Lt. Daryl Noon said his department has identified a suspect in the murder of Dalton Ford, but more work would need to be done before detectives could make an arrest.

"It is just taking time, because of the complexity of the type of people that were involved in the crime," Noon said. "There was a lot of chatter on the street, and we are trying to put stuff together before we get a warrant."

Noon said detectives would reach out to the sheriff's office and investigate the new angle, however.

"I am thinking that is a lot of stuff we didn't know," he said.

Noon confirmed that Travis Ford is not a suspect in his father's death. Noon said Travis Ford has cooperated fully with the department's investigation.

Kyle Lincoln, detective lieutenant at the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday the San Juan County District Attorney's Office has asked him not to discuss the Brandy Robinson case. Attorneys for the state and defense are barred from speaking about the case due to a gag order.

Kerr requested in the motion that the case against Soto be dismissed due to the state's failure to provide her with information regarding Dalton Ford's murder.

Prosecutor David Cowen dismissed the connection between the murders at a hearing on the motion held Tuesday, according to an audio recording.

"These cases were two years apart," Cowen said. "I find it difficult to see how they are related."

Judge John Dean denied the request for dismissal and confirmed at the hearing that Soto's murder trial would begin Tuesday.

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