Former murder witness pleads to assault

Steve Garrison
Angel Mares

AZTEC — Angel Mares, 36, pleaded guilty today to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and admitted in a plea agreement he threatened his ex-girlfriend's son with a knife.

Prosecutors dismissed charges tied to the kidnapping and battery of his ex-girlfriend as part of the agreement. A vandalism offense also was dismissed.

Mares has served almost a year in jail since his arrest on July 20, the day he was expected to testify at the murder trial for Mark Hinojos.

Mares' ex-girlfriend, Sabrina Pacheco, was also expected to testify against Hinojos, who was accused of shooting a 39-year-old man to death on Dec. 15, 2014, at an apartment in Farmington.

Pacheco told police Mares attempted to talk with her about Hinojos' case, which was prohibited, and she refused, which caused him to become upset, according to court records. Mares then allegedly threatened Pacheco and her two children with a pocket knife at the couple's San Juan County residence, records state.

Mares' arrest forced prosecutors to plea bargain with Hinojos, who pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to voluntary manslaughter, instead of second-degree murder, and a drug trafficking offense. Hinojos agreed to serve an eight-year prison sentence as part of the deal.

In addition to time served, Mares will serve 364 days in jail followed by supervised release as part of the plea deal. Mares also admitted today he was a repeat offender, which increased by a year the maximum sentence he faced for aggravated assault.

"He has made peace with his problems and is interested in putting this behind him," Mares' attorney, Scott Johnson, told a judge at today's hearing.

Prosecutor David Cowen told Judge John Dean his office offered the plea bargain because it guaranteed a two-year sentence, which was an adequate sentence.

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