Murder suspect charged with battery, assault

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON — A Farmington man awaiting trial on a murder charge faces a new set of felony and misdemeanor charges for an alleged incident at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

Rick Stallings

Rick Stallings, 51, is accused of battery and assault on a peace officer stemming from a Nov. 8 incident with a corrections officer.

Stallings has been in custody at the jail since October 2015, when he was charged with first-degree murder and several felony theft offenses for the death of Flora Vista resident Karen Cugnini.

He was also accused in December 2015 of possessing a makeshift knife at the jail.

Stallings made his first appearance in regard to the new charges on Monday in Aztec Magistrate Court.

His attorney, Thomas Clark, could not immediately be reached for comment today.

A deputy from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office was dispatched at about 8:41 p.m. Nov. 8 to the detention center in reference to a battery report, according to an affidavit.

A corrections officer told the deputy he was delivering food trays to inmates when Stallings asked him to change the television channel. When the officer did not comply, Stallings became angry and started to yell before approaching the officer with a clenched fist and lunging in his direction.

The affidavit states Stallings threw a drink in the officer's face and threw punches. The officer moved away from Stallings, then instructed him to return to his cell.

When the officer started locking the cell door, Stallings ran toward the officer, but the officer was able to close the door without incident.

The deputy interviewed Stallings, as well. The inmate told the deputy the confrontation started after he asked for a bucket of water for the inmates to use for cleaning.

Stallings said he became upset and yelled at the officer, who punched him in the ribs, so he started swinging at the officer. He stated he threw the drink in his hand at the officer, but it was not on purpose.

The deputy also reviewed video of the incident between Stallings and the officer, the affidavit states.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.