Suspect pleads no contest to murder charge
Timothy Serrano was accused of 2015 murder in Farmington
FARMINGTON — The ex-wife of a man stabbed to death in 2015 believes the suspect who recently agreed to a plea agreement should get the maximum sentencing for the crime.
Timothy Serrano pleaded no contest on Monday in Aztec District Court to three criminal charges as part of a plea agreement including a count of murder in the second degree in the death of Dalton Ford in 2015, according to court documents.
Serrano, 34, was charged on May 10, 2016, in Farmington Magistrate Court with an open count of murder and tampering with evidence, according to court documents.
He was accused of stabbing Dalton Ford to death in a motel room at the Rimrock Lodge, 2530 Bloomfield Highway in Farmington, according to court documents. Ford's body was found on Sept. 14, 2015.
The case was investigated by the Farmington Police Department.
The plea agreement filed on Monday also includes a court case in which Serrano was arrested on Aug. 28, 2015, and accused of fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle.
Linda Ford-Maloy, Dalton Ford's ex-wife, said she hopes Judge John Dean Jr. sentences Serrano to the maximum amount of prison time on the second-degree murder charge.
"He was my best friend and the father of my son," Ford-Maloy said.
Dustin O'Brien, San Juan County chief deputy district attorney, said his office believes the plea agreement was appropriate, based on the facts and evidence the prosecution would be able to present.
The plea agreement recommends that the sentences for the cases run concurrently.
It also recommends a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and nine years of parole for the second-degree murder conviction.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentencing of 15 years in prison followed by two years of parole.
Ford-Maloy said the prison sentences should run consecutively so Serrano serves time for each charge individually.
"This is no justice. This is saying his life is worth nothing," Ford-Maloy said.
She believes the plea agreement should not have included the vehicle theft case and a case pending in Aztec Magistrate Court on a misdemeanor count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
Christian Hatfield, one of Serrano's attorneys in the murder case, said there were significant evidence problems for the prosecution and defense in the case that were discussed and acknowledged by Dean.
Serrano believes the plea offer was in his best interest, according to Cosme Ripol, the second attorney representing Serrano.
In the murder case, a felony count of tampering with evidence was dismissed.
For the vehicle theft case, Serrano pleaded no contest to fourth-degree felony charges for unlawful taking of a motor vehicle charge and larceny of a firearm.
The vehicle theft charge was pleaded down from a third-degree felony count.
A felony charge of possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon and a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer was dismissed.
The case in Aztec Magistrate Court of a misdemeanor count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia also was dismissed.
Serrano's sentencing hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Oct. 31 in Aztec District Court. Ford-Maloy plans to give a statement during the hearing.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.