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Trial date set for brothers in Fruitland murder

Third brother scheduled to change plea in 2015 murder

Steve Garrison
stgarrison@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — A trial date has been set for two brothers charged in federal court with first-degree murder in the March 2015 slaying of a 30-year-old Fruitland man.

Maynard Shirley

Maynard Shirley and Michael Shirley are each charged in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico with first-degree murder and assault resulting in bodily injury on allegations they fatally stabbed Brandon BlueEyes on March 21, 2015, at his Fruitland home, according to a criminal complaint.

Michael Jay Shirley

The brothers are also alleged to have stabbed BlueEyes' father when he attempted to intercede, but the father survived, the complaint states.

Maynard Shirley and Michael Shirley are scheduled to appear at trial Oct. 17 in Albuquerque.

A third brother, Elijah Shirley, is scheduled to appear at a plea hearing on Sept. 21. Elijah Shirley's ex-girlfriend, Valerie Jim, was at the residence at the time of the incident, according to court records. She told investigators she had ended her relationship with Elijah Shirley a week before the murder.

She began dating BlueEyes, a close friend of Elijah Shirley, shortly after their 10-year relationship ended, according to records, and she identified the three brothers as BlueEyes' attackers.

Elijah Calvin Shirley

Federal prosecutors seek to introduce as evidence at trial allegations that the brothers had mistreated or controlled their domestic partners in prior relationships. Prosecutors also seek to introduce evidence of the brothers' criminal history, which includes convictions for felony assault and domestic battery.

The evidence would be used to establish a motive; prosecutors allege the brothers sought vengeance for Jim's infidelity and BlueEyes' perceived betrayal, according to an Aug. 29 motion.

Maynard Shirley's attorney, Theresa Duncan, has asked Judge James O. Browning to exclude such evidence from trial because of its prejudicial nature.

Duncan declined to comment today about the case. Attorneys for Michael Shirley and Elijah Shirley did not respond today to requests for comment.

The judge has not ruled on the evidence.

Arnelia Williams

Maynard Shirley's girlfriend, Arnelia Williams, was also arrested in connection to the murder on allegations she aided and abetted the brothers and served as an accessory after the fact. She admitted in a plea agreement on May 6 that she aided and abetted the brothers after the murder, and the federal government has indicated in court filings she will serve as a possible witness at the brothers' trial. Williams has not been sentenced.

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