Man claims alibi in murder at Rimrock Lodge

Steve Garrison
Timothy Serrano

FARMINGTON — A 33-year-old Farmington man charged in the killing last fall of a man at the Rimrock Lodge claims he has an alibi for the night of the murder.

Timothy Serrano claims in a notice filed in the Eleventh Judicial District on July 6 that he was with girlfriend Heidi Martinez and friend Casey Ridgley on the night of Sept. 13.

Martinez, reached by telephone Thursday, confirmed she was Serrano's girlfriend and an alibi witness, but declined to comment.

"I was advised to speak to no one but his attorney," Martinez said.

Ridgley could not be reached for comment.

Dalton Ford was found stabbed to death the morning of Sept. 14 in his motel room at the Rimrock Lodge, 2530 Bloomfield Highway in Farmington, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Blood stained the walls, pillows and bedding in the room, and police found almost $3,500 in cash in a pair of jeans, which was determined to have come from casino winnings, the affidavit states.

About two weeks after the murder, Mark Mcguffin contacted Farmington police detectives and reported that Serrano appeared at a mutual friend's residence the night of the murder covered in blood and armed with a knife, according to the affidavit.

The mutual friend, Iran Olguin, confirmed the account, the affidavit states, and told detectives Serrano met Ford to obtain heroin, but Ford refused to give him it because Serrano owed Ford $20.

Serrano told detectives in an interview he did not really know Ford, but he met him one day while walking past the motel. He said he and Ford met while he was searching for cigarettes in the motel parking lot, and the two men smoked marijuana, the affidavit states. He said he then left the motel, according to the affidavit.

A toxicology report stated there was no marijuana in Ford's system at the time of his death, according to the affidavit.

Serrano's DNA was also found on a cigarette butt in Ford's motel room, the affidavit states. Serrano's attorney, Christian Hatfield, said Thursday the cigarette butt confirmed his client's account of what happened the night.

"He admitted he was over there," Hatfield said. "He smoked a cigarette with the guy, but he left hours before the murder."

Hatfield said the alibi witnesses will confirm Serrano did not visit the motel at the time of the murder, which police believe occurred during the early-morning hours of Sept. 14.

"He was home, according to him and the witnesses, by 9 or 10, in bed sleeping," according to Hatfield.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the state will investigate the alibi claims. He said the defense is required to disclose an alibi claim before trial so prosecutors have an opportunity to determine the claim's veracity.

"Usually, its not a perfect defense, unless (the suspect) was in jail or somewhere on video," O'Brien said.

Serrano is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 19.

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