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Victim had an 8- to 12-inch wound on his face

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FARMINGTON — A male suspect is wanted by law enforcement officials for allegedly striking a man in the face with an ax, then claiming he almost killed the victim in a social media chat.

Riley Armenta, 30, is accused of a third-degree felony count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a fourth-degree felony count of tampering with evidence, according to court records.

His arrest warrant was active on the morning of Oct. 1.

San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched around 7 p.m. on Aug. 22 to County Road 7007 in southeastern San Juan County on a report of an individual being attacked with an ax. The scene was about a mile west of the residence.

They found a man at the scene with a large wound to his face outside a trailer. He was transported by helicopter to the San Juan Regional Medical Center.

He spoke to deputies on Aug. 23, stating he, another man and Armenta were drinking alcohol and became extremely intoxicated the day before.

The victim could not recall the attack, and his wound was described as being on the left side of his face and measuring 8 to 12 inches.

The male witness at the scene stated that when he exited the trailer, he saw the victim lying on the ground covered in blood. The witness attempted to provide medical care but was unable to due to his level of intoxication.

Blood was found in several locations at the scene, along with bloody clothing. An empty bottle of alcohol covered in blood was found in a trash can.

A pickup truck at the scene had a large quantity of blood on the outside and inside of the bed, according to court documents.

A neighbor witnessed Armenta running down a road, carrying an object in his hand.

The affidavit states unidentified witnesses claim an ax was used in the attack, but no ax was found at the scene.

The defendant was later found in a trailer at the scene, and law enforcement officials spent more than a hour ordering Armenta to exit the trailer.

It was determined the trailer was on a small piece of tribal land, and those law enforcement representatives left the scene as Navajo police officers were dispatched.

Armenta allegedly fled the scene while Navajo police were en route to the scene.

When deputies returned to the scene on Aug. 29, all of the property was gone, including the pickup truck.

Authorities found a Facebook profile for a Riley Armenta with a profile photo similar to a previous booking photo of the suspect.

A search warrant on the profile was obtained, and on Sept. 19, Facebook representatives responded by supplying investigators with a chat log. The account holder had messaged someone on Aug. 23, the day after the alleged incident.

The affidavit states the account holder said police were looking for him and that he did something very bad and was in big trouble. He also stated he almost killed the man.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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