Kirtland man pleads guilty in woman's stabbing

A.J. Diaz has pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder in the 2015 stabbing of a woman during a failed robbery

Steve Garrison
A.J. Diaz

FARMINGTON — A 21-year-old Kirtland man accused of stabbing a woman two dozen times during a robbery last year has pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, robbery and vehicle theft.

Prosecutors alleged A.J. Diaz stabbed 38-year-old Joni Leigh Scoville on July 16 during a botched robbery on County Road 3000 east of Farmington.

Scoville was found by police after a passerby spotted her on the side of the road. She was treated at San Juan Regional Medical Center for multiple wounds to her neck, forearms, chest and thighs, the affidavit states.

Diaz was arrested the next day at his mother's residence after police received information the suspect was with Scoville at the time of the incident, the affidavit states.

Diaz initially claimed he stabbed Scoville in self-defense after a botched drug deal, but eventually told police he met the woman with the intention to rob and kill her, the affidavit states.

Diaz told police he fled the scene in the woman's vehicle. Police had previously located the vehicle abandoned at the intersection of Browning Parkway and U.S. Highway 64, according to the affidavit.

Diaz also admitted he tossed the knife out of the window after the attack, the affidavit states.

Diaz entered his plea Wednesday in an agreement with prosecutors, according to court records.

The San Juan County District Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss one count of evidence tampering as part of the agreement. Diaz was also allowed to plea to a less serious robbery offense.

Diaz's attorney, Scott Johnson of the New Mexico Public Defender's Office, did not respond today to a request for comment.

Diaz faces up to 13 1/2 years in prison at a sentencing hearing, scheduled for Aug. 8.

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