The suspect in Santa Fe’s first homicide of the year allegedly told city police that the victim he kicked in the head several times was taunting him, calling him a “cheap Indian.”
Police arrested Orlando Yazzie, a 37-year-old transient, on an open count of murder for the death of 55-year-old Mark Ginnel, whose body was found on a dirt road adjacent to Rosario Cemetery at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Police believe Ginnel was also homeless.
Yazzie is being held in the Santa Fe County jail on a $1 million bond.
Police spokeswoman Celina Westervelt said investigators believe Ginnel was badly beaten, which led to his death. However, an autopsy report is pending from the Office of the Medical Investigator.
Police believe alcohol was a factor in the crime and that Yazzie may have been intoxicated, Westervelt said. Yazzie allegedly told police he was drinking in an arroyo near the cemetery Monday around 3 p.m. He said he was upset with Ginnel, who called him a “cheap Indian,” Yazzie allegedly told police. He told them he punched Ginnel, who “went to sleep.” Yazzie said he then continued to drink near the scene of the fight and returned a few hours later to kick Ginnel in the head repeatedly, according to police.
Investigators found beer and energy drink cans and hard liquor containers at the scene.
Westervelt said she did not know whether the victim was also intoxicated. She said Yazzie, also known as “Red Eyes,” has a lengthy criminal history with the department and has been arrested 28 times since 2010. Yazzie has convictions for such crimes as aggravated battery and assault on a peace officer, according to an online court records database.
Yazzie was one of two people police questioned in connection with the case, Westervelt said. She said police questioned another person who was familiar with both the suspect and the victim, but said that police are not looking for another suspect in the case.
The victim’s body was found by a cemetery employee, Westervelt said previously.