Detective identifies second suspect in murder

Steve Garrison
Defendant Cody Soto listens on Jan. 20 during his trial at the Eleventh Judicial District Court in Aztec.

AZTEC — Jurors in the trial for Cody Soto learned Thursday that a 32-year-old woman is still a suspect in the murder of Brandy Robinson.

Soto, 26, is facing a first-degree murder charge for allegedly fatally stabbing Robinson, his ex-girlfriend, and dumping her body near a dirt road south of Farmington. Police found Robinson’s body stabbed and slashed 23 times on June 22, 2013.

During the investigation, San Juan County Sheriff's Office detectives identified several suspects and persons of interest before eventually arresting Soto on Aug. 28, 2013.

Patrol Sgt. Justin Rieker with the sheriff's office was a detective in June 2013 and was involved in the investigation of Robinson’s death.

He testified during cross-examination Thursday that Jamie Terrell, also known as Jamie May, remains a suspect in Robinson’s murder.

Terrell told Rieker and another detective on July 6, 2013, that it was "possible" she was present during Robinson’s murder, but said that even if she was present, she would have no memory of the event due to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a sheriff’s office investigative report.

The report also states that an acquaintance of Robinson told detectives that Terrell had confessed to her that Terrell covered up Robinson’s murder.

Rieker admitted during cross-examination that his mother was dating another person of interest in Robinson's murder, Wes Thompson.

Rieker said his relationship with his mother was strained due to her involvement with Thompson.

“I didn’t care for him or my mother’s lifestyle at the time,” Rieker said.

An attorney for Soto, Christian Hatfield, suggested Wednesday during the cross-examination of another detective that Thompson inserted himself in the case to collect a reward for information offered by San Juan County Crime Stoppers.

Rieker said he did not provide any information to his mother or Thompson during the investigation into Robinson’s murder.

Also on Thursday, the defense recalled a former suspect, Michael "Sparky" Graham, to the stand to testify about alleged discrepancies in his preview statements to detectives. Graham previously testified last week.

An attorney for Soto, Liane Kerr, read to the jury several passages from a transcript of Graham’s statements to detectives in which Graham made several contradicting claims about his whereabouts in the days leading up to Robinson’s death.

During his testimony Thursday, Graham repeatedly told Kerr he was confused during his interview with detectives.

“I put behind me this whole case,” he said.

Detectives identified Graham as a suspect in Robinson’s murder shortly after the 29-year-old woman’s death. They searched Graham’s vehicles and a room he occupied at his parent’s house, but found no DNA evidence linking him to the crime.

Soto was also not connected to the crime scene by DNA evidence but allegedly confessed to stabbing Robinson while being questioned by detectives on July 9, 2013, and July 10, 2013.

Jurors watched recordings of those interrogations last week and on Tuesday. In the footage, Soto quickly recanted his confession in the July 9 interview.

Prosecutor David Cowen pointed out during the cross-examination of Graham that Graham was also interrogated by police, but did not confess to stabbing Robinson.

The murder trial for Soto began on Jan. 20. The state rested its case Thursday, and the trial is scheduled to conclude Friday.

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