Trial begins in double-murder case

Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, May 3, 2012

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O pening arguments were given Wednesday in the murder trial of Alex Redhouse.

Redhorse, 19, is accused of murdering Dustin Rye and Alec Armijo, both 20 and both from Gallup, on April 17, 2011, in the McGaffey area by shooting them in the head with a shotgun and then burning their bodies.

Lyndy Bennett, an assistant district attorney, said the state will call Quentin Lalio to the stand. Lalio was driving along the road that day and came upon Armijo and another man.

Lalio said Armijo jumped out in front of his car and when he rolled down the window, grabbed his steering wheel and asked for help. Lalio was scared, Bennet said, and kept driving with Armijo holding onto the wheel.

He finally stopped and agreed to let Armijo in but when Armijo started going around the car to get in the passenger side, Lalio speeded off because he was scared.

Sam Bregman, Redhorse's attorney, said in his opening statement that Lalio will not be able to identify Redhorse as the second man he saw that day.

In fact, said Bregman, the prosecution has no evidence - no DNA, no footprints at the scene, nothing that would link Redhorse to the crime.

The bodies of Rye and Armijo were not discovered until the next day - Lalio didn't report his story to police until two days later - and Bregman said that prosecutors cannot provide an accurate time frame as to when the two died.

He pointed out that Redhorse was in Albuquerque on the morning of the 18th so that would mean that he did the killings on the 17th, went to Albuquerque the next morning and then came back to the crime scene that afternoon to burn the bodies.

Bennett said the state would provide evidence that showed that Rye and Arimo were "last seen getting into a vehicle with the defendant."

The prosecution also has witnesses, said Bregman, who will testify that Redhorse later confessed to them that he had taken part in the killings. But Bregman said these two, who he labeled as a drug dealer and a drug user, were liars and their testimony wasn't credible.

Bennett didn't mention these two in his opening statement. He also didn't mention if the prosecution planned to call Redhorse family members to the stand.

Kerry Redhorse, his sister, was interviewed by state police just after the bodies were found and said that her brother told her and their mother, Sylvia Largo, after returning from Albuquerque that "he did something bad" and "was in trouble."

Alex Redhorse told them, she said, that he was in the car with Rye and Armijo driving in the McGaffey area when he and Rye became involved in a physical altercation over control of a shotgun which was located under a seat in the vehicle.

Alex Redhorse said that during the struggle, the shotgun discharged and the pellets struck Rye in the head, killing him.

Alex Redhorse said at that point he placed his foot on the brake but was not able to stop it from hitting the tree.

Armijo exited the vehicle, followed by Redhorse and he said the two began fighting, during which Redhorse manage to grab the shotgun and shoot him in the head.

Redhorse told his sister that he decided at that time to kill himself but the shotgun was out of ammunition so he opened the truck hoping to find more shotgun shells.

What he found, however, was a gasoline can filled with gasoline and some rope, which got him to thinking that the two had been planning on killing him.

He decided to use the gasoline to set the vehicle and Armijo's body on fire.

After that, he removed some of his clothing because it was covered with blood and burned it as well. He discarded the shotgun in the area and began walking back to town.

The trial is expected to last four days.

Gallup pushes cross-deputization

In other police news, the Gallup City Council last week approved a resolution to go ahead with discussions about getting a cross-deputization agreement with the Navajo Nation Police.

This would allow Navajo police to make arrests in Gallup and for Gallup police to make arrests on the Navajo Reservation.

While the Navajo government has entered into cross-deputization agreements with the New Mexico State Police and county sheriff offices in New Mexico and Arizona, it has never done the same with border town law enforcement agencies.

Navajo Police Captain Steve Nelson, who oversees the Crownpoint District, said this would have to be brought up before the Navajo Nation Council committee overseeing the Division of Public Safety.

He said that Gallup may be looking at this so that city police officers could go onto the reservation and arrest Navajos who have committed crimes in Gallup.

"If that is what they are thinking, they are wrong," Nelson said. "Cross-deputization doesn't work that way."

The Crownpoint District already oversees some lands around Gallup that are Indian-owned. It has a substation at the Fire Rock Navajo Casino in Church Rock since the casino is on tribal land.

Nelson stressed that in emergencies, the Navajo police acts as backup to Gallup police under a mutual aid agreement.

Vehicle struck on railroad tracks

FLAGSTAFF - On Saturday, April 28, officers of the Flagstaff Police Department responded to the area of E. Route 66 and Ponderosa Parkway due to reports of a collision between a motor vehicle and a BNSF train, according to a news release from the police department.

Officers arrived on scene to learn the driver of the motor vehicle, Bahe Sam, 74, of Flagstaff, drove through the construction barricades at this intersection and then high-centered his vehicle.

Bahe exited his vehicle after not being able to get it unstuck. A short time later a train travelling through this intersection struck Bahe's vehicle causing significant damage. No one was injured as a result of this collision.

The public is reminded this intersection is closed and will remain closed for construction for several more weeks.

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