Farmington man accused of murder pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter, claims self-defense

The defendant has been held at county jail since June 2019

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Eagles Kassanavoid, 22, entered his guilty plea on the third-degree felony count of voluntary manslaughter and a fourth-degree felony count of tampering with evidence.
  • Kelly Golightley, one of Kassanavoid’s attorneys, told The Daily Times the prosecution gave the defendant a reasonable plea in the case.
  • The defendant’s sentencing hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. on June 9 in front of Chief District Court Judge Karen Townsend.

FARMINGTON — A Farmington man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter as a part of a plea agreement, after saying he fatally stabbed a man in self-defense.

Eagles Kassanavoid, 22, entered his guilty plea on the third-degree felony count of voluntary manslaughter and a fourth-degree felony count of tampering with evidence during a May 21 hearing in Aztec District Court, according to court records.

The defendant was initially charged on June 3, 2019, with an open count of murder along with tampering with evidence and resisting arrest, according to The Daily Times archives.

Kassanavoid has pleaded guilty to killing 30-year-old Antonio Coochwikvia by stabbing him once during the early morning of June 2, 2019.

The defendant was set for a five-day jury trial to start on May 24 when the change of plea hearing was scheduled on May 17.

Kelly Golightley, one of Kassanavoid’s attorneys, told The Daily Times the prosecution gave the defendant a reasonable plea in the case.

She also said her client recognizes this case is a serious matter and that Coochwikvia was an unintended victim from the fight.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien told The Daily Times the sentences for second and third-degree homicide charges are not very long in New Mexico and that frustrates district attorneys and the families of victims.

O'Brien also said some witnesses had "disappeared" and no one who witnessed the entire incident was available to testify.

Kassanavoid has been held without bond since June 2, 2019, at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

The incident occurred around 3:29 a.m. on June 2, 2019, in the 900 block of Walnut Drive.

Coochwikvia was found unresponsive in an apartment with a single stab wound to the chest. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

One witness told police Coochwikvia and Kassanavoid were fighting, as he saw the defendant slam the victim against a window along with punching and kicking him in the face.

Another witness saw Kassanavoid pull out a knife during the fight but did not see the stabbing because he ran to get a golf club from his apartment.

Kassanavoid told police he stabbed Coochwikvia in self-defense, then fled the scene and lost the knife.

The defendant’s sentencing hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. on June 9 in front of Chief District Court Judge Karen Townsend. 

Kassanavoid faces a maximum sentence of eight years and six months in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

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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