Man claims hate fueled attack at Farmington home
FARMINGTON — A 31-year-old man said he was beaten up in a hate crime early Sunday at a residence in Farmington.
Police issued a warrant Monday for 33-year-old Jonathan Reed in connection to the incident.
Josh Valdez told The Daily Times in an interview today he believed Reed attacked him because of his sexual orientation.
Valdez, who is gay, told police the suspect hurled hateful slurs at him and said, "Gay is not right with the Lord" before punching him in the face, according to court records.
"I didn't even know who he was," Valdez said. "He told me he hated f------, and he got in my face. Then he started beating on me."
Valdez said he was treated at the San Juan Regional Medical Center for a broken nose and a concussion. Valdez's friend, 35-year-old Christina Martinez, was treated today for a brain bleed she sustained when she tried to stop the fight, court records state.
"If she hadn't gotten involved, I'd be dead," Valdez said.
Reed was charged in Farmington Magistrate Court with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, a third-degree felony, and misdemeanor aggravated battery in connection to the incident.
Reed, who remained at large today, does not face enhanced charges under the state's hate crime laws. San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said today that prosecutors would need to speak with the victim before determining whether to charge the offense as a hate crime.
However, he said the state's hate crime laws currently do not offer prosecutors much incentive to pursue the enhancement.
A jury would need to determine the attack on Valdez was "motivated by hate" or committed because of Valdez's actual or perceived sexual orientation, according to O'Brien.
Even if the jury did return such a ruling, O'Brien said the defendant would only face one additional year in prison and, unlike other criminal enhancements, it is not a mandatory sentence.
By comparison, a violation of the federal hate crime law is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. A defendant can face up to life in prison under federal law if the offense results in death, or if it involves kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to kill.
"The reality is that, depending on the circumstance, we don't often charge it, because it ends up complicating the case for no realistic gain for the prosecution," O'Brien said.
Police were dispatched at about 2:16 a.m. Sunday to a residence on North Carlton Avenue in Farmington after receiving reports of a fight at a birthday celebration, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Valdez met police at a nearby convenience store. He was bloodied, black-eyed and missing a sandal, according to the affidavit.
Valdez told police Reed appeared at the birthday party shortly after midnight. He said he was outside smoking a cigarette when Reed confronted him and called him a slur commonly directed at gay people, the affidavit states.
Valdez said Reed left, but approached him again later in the evening and continued to insult him, according to the affidavit.
Valdez said he attempted to calm Reed, but the man punched him in the face, according to the affidavit. Reed then allegedly pinned Valdez to the ground and pummeled him, the affidavit states.
Martinez screamed at Reed and attempted to stop him, but the man then attacked her, according to the affidavit.
Police found blood stains outside the North Carlton Avenue residence.
The homeowner confirmed Reed attended the party, but said he left the scene on foot.
Valdez said the incident was not the first time he has faced violence because of his sexual orientation. He said he previously was beaten and robbed in 2013 while wearing women's clothing outside the Walmart on West Main Street. He said he planned to attend a drag show that evening at San Juan College.
"They pulled me out of my car," he said. "The injuries weren't as severe. They hit me, and I got a black eye."
Reed's bond was set at $15,000.
Some court records provide an alternate spelling of Reed's name.
Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.