Bloomfield man found not guilty of fatal 2019 stabbing of man in Berg Park

The jury deliberated for four hours before delivering verdict

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Derrick Charley, 28, was acquitted of a first-degree felony count of murder during a three-day jury trial which started on March 29 in Aztec District Court.
  • The defendant was accused of killing 37-year-old Hector Luna-Holguin.
  • The incident prompted the Farmington Police Department to assign more shifts for officers to patrol the park for the month of May in 2019, according to The Daily Times archives.

FARMINGTON — A Bloomfield man who had been jailed since May of 2019 was found not guilty of murder in the fatal stabbing of a man in Berg Park in 2019 during a jury trial in Aztec.

Derrick Charley, 28, was acquitted of a first-degree felony count of murder during a three-day jury trial which started on March 29 in Aztec District Court in front of Chief District Court Judge Karen Townsend.

The incident took place around 6:22 p.m. on May 5, 2019, at Berg Park East at 2105 River Road.

The defendant was accused of killing 37-year-old Hector Luna-Holguin.

Charley claimed he was defending himself when Luna-Holguin attacked him while leaving a restroom in the park.

Matthew Cockman, Charley’s attorney, said in a statement the case is a shocking reminder that just because someone is arrested, doesn’t mean they actually did something illegal or wrong.

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He also said the case also serves as a warning for how state courts use pre-trial detention to hold defendants in jail while awaiting trial.

Charley was incarcerated at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center from May 6, 2019 until he was released on the night of March 31 around 8:15 p.m., according to jail records.

“Despite rating a very low risk of fleeing or danger, he was still held without bond — for two years!” Cockman said in the statement. “He spent almost two years in jail for a crime he did not commit. While he was in jail, he contracted COVID-19 and his father died. He paid a price emotionally and physically for just being accused.”

The jury deliberated for about four hours during the evening of April 1, delivering the not guilty verdict, according to Cockman.

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San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien told The Daily Times the district attorney’s office introduced all the evidence it could, but it appears the jury didn’t believe the prosecution disproved the self-defense argument beyond a reasonable doubt.

The incident prompted the Farmington Police Department to assign more shifts for officers to patrol the park for the month of May in 2019, according to The Daily Times archives.

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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