Suspect held at county jail after district judge's court order



FARMINGTON — A district court judge has ruled that a convicted murderer should remain incarcerated at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center due to an unrelated pending criminal case in which the man is accused of a felony drug charge.

Charges were filed against Timothy Serrano on Oct. 31 in Aztec Magistrate Court for a fourth-degree felony count of possession of a dangerous drug and a misdemeanor count of drug paraphernalia, according to the criminal complaint.

He is accused of being in possession of two pills in his cell at the county jail that were identified to be prescription only and not a controlled substance, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Serrano was sentenced to 10 years in prison during a sentencing hearing on Oct. 31 in Aztec District Court for three convictions, including murder in the second degree.

He was convicted of stabbing Dalton Ford to death in a motel room at the Rimrock Lodge at 2530 Bloomfield Highway in Farmington. Ford's body was found by Farmington police officers on Sept. 14, 2015.

He pleaded no contest to the charges, including larceny of a firearm and vehicle theft.

A detention officer found items, including the pills, in Serrano's cell at the county jail on Oct. 27 after he allegedly refused the officer's order to step out of his cell.

The detention officer told a San Juan County Sheriff's deputy he observed something being passed from another cell to Serrano's cell.

After allegedly refusing the officer's orders, Serrano is accused of grabbing items off his bunk and heading toward the toilet in his cell, the affidavit states.

Officers took Serrano to the ground, and he was handcuffed. A homemade syringe made from a pen was also found and collected as evidence, according to court documents.

Christian Hatfield, Serrano's attorney, said it's still early in the case, and he is awaiting test results on the pills. He added he did not know if Serrano had any prescriptions that might be involved.

The San Juan County District Attorney's Office filed an expedited motion for pretrial detention on Thursday to hold Serrano at the county jail.

District Judge John Dean Jr. ordered that Serrano be held at the county jail on Monday on the pending case in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Dustin O'Brien, San Juan County Chief deputy district attorney, said his office filed the motion in an "abundance of caution" to ensure Serrano remains in custody in this case at the county jail.

He added the order would help avoid the possibility of him being transported into the custody of the New Mexico Corrections Department.

Hatfield agreed with the motion since it stalled Serrano's transfer to the state department of corrections.

The preliminary hearing for the drug charges is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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