Shanah Chadwick-McNally faces 4 felony counts in case

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FARMINGTON — A local woman accused of murder could face life in prison without parole after the New Mexico Supreme Court denied her appeal challenging the procedures of the case.

Shanah Chadwick-McNally is charged with a first-degree felony count of murder, a first-degree felony count of kidnapping, a third-degree felony count of robbery and a fourth-degree felony count of conspiracy, according to The Daily Times archives.

She is one of two people who were accused of slaying Gerald "Joe" Dunning in August 2015 at his home on U.S. Highway 550 north of Aztec.

David Carter also was charged in the case and was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.

Chadwick-McNally's appeal claimed she was entitled to "heightened procedural protections" which apply when the state of New Mexico seeks a death penalty sentence, according to a press release issued by the office of state Attorney General Hector Balderas.

The state Supreme Court agreed with Office of the Attorney General Criminal Appeals Division and denied her appeal today.

In the state Supreme Court ruling, it states the death penalty procedures do not apply in this case because the "extraordinary penalty of death" is not implicated.

Balderas said in the press release he was pleased the case against Chadwick-McNally could move forward.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said Chadwick-McNalley's attorney argued the prosecution had to follow the same procedures for a case involving a life in prison without parole sentence as a death penalty sentence. 

O'Brien added the prosecution believed the court had no authority to enact such procedure rules. The DA's Office plans to move the case along as quickly as possible, O'Brien said.

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