DNA evidence was obtained from hat suspect allegedly wore

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FARMINGTON — A man convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing a man to death in a Farmington motel faces a new charge for auto burglary after DNA found on a hat was tied to the suspect.

Timothy Serrano, 34, was charged on May 7 with a fourth-degree felony count of burglary of a vehicle, according to court records.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Oct. 31 during a hearing in Aztec District Court.

Serrano pleaded no contest on Oct. 16 to second-degree murder, larceny of a firearm and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle as part of a plea agreement in two district court cases.

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

The new case stems from an alleged auto burglary that took place in the early morning of Feb. 11, 2016, at a residence in the 1600 block of East 17th Street, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Serrano was arrested in May 2016 in the murder case.

The owner of a Ford pickup truck told a Farmington Police Department officer a man was sitting in the driver's seat of his vehicle when he approached it.

The suspect exited the vehicle, and the victim attempted to catch the suspect, believed to be Serrano, according to court documents.

The suspect ran eastbound on 17th Street and was tackled by the victim. Serrano allegedly got back up and ran southbound on Fairgrounds Road and was never located by officers.

A "beanie" hat and bicycle were taken as evidence, according to court documents. The bike was leaning on the pickup truck when the alleged incident occurred, and the hat was retrieved by the victim when he tackled the suspect in the street.

The hat was sent to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety lab for DNA processing. Farmington police received a letter on June 7, 2017, stating the DNA on the hat came back as Serrano's, according to the affidavit.

A DNA specimen from Serrano was requested from the lab, which was obtained on Nov. 21, 2017, during the execution of a search warrant. A Farmington detective received word on May 7 the DNA on the hat belonged to Serrano, the affidavit states.

He is incarcerated at the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, according to the New Mexico Corrections Department Offender Search. Serrano did not have legal representation Friday.

Dustin O'Brien, the San Juan County chief deputy district attorney, said Serrano has not been served the arrest warrant. He added Serrano could possibly make his first appearance in Farmington Magistrate Court telephonically.

O'Brien did not know if Serrano would be transferred to the San Juan County Adult Detention Center for the duration of the case or if he would stay at the Lea County Correction Facility and travel for court appearances.

A first appearance in Farmington Magistrate Court has not been scheduled, according to court records.

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

More: Serrano sentenced to 10 years on murder charge

Suspect pleads no contest to murder charge

Judge reduces bond amount for Farmington murder suspect

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