Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
UPDATE: Rhiannon Montoya found not guilty of uncles murder (Friday, Aug. 1, 2014)
SANTA FE – Two young women who have admitted murdering retired Chimayó educator Rudy Montoya met with his niece and held a “binding” ceremony after the crime, one of them testified on Tuesday.
The “magic, witchcraft” ceremony was intended to ensure no harm would come to the three women, testified Sheanee “Shea” Martinez, 20, who admits she stabbed the victim while her accomplice clubbed him with a baseball bat.
Meanwhile, his niece, Rhiannon Montoya, 36, of Española, waited in her car outside Montoya’s Chimayo home, according to testimony. Montoya is on trial in Santa Fe for plotting the murder of her uncle so she could get a larger inheritance from her grandfather.
Martinez and Angel Baldonado, 24, testified Tuesday that Montoya offered them as much as $10,000 for the killing of Rudy Montoya. Rhiannon Montoya has denied any involvement in a recorded police interview played for the jury.
In February, Martinez and Baldonado pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, burglary and evidence tampering, as part of plea agreements that required them to testify against Rhiannon Montoya. They have not yet been sentenced and face up to 21 years in prison.
In court, both women have told tangled tales of drug use, hallucinations, stolen cars and unemployment, with days spent smoking pot and using other drugs while watching movies and waiting for children to return from school.
Asked by prosecutor Peter Valencia what a binding ceremony is, Martinez said, “Magic, witchcraft.”
While Martinez and Baldonado were with her in her home after the murder, which occurred Oct. 12, 2012, Rhiannon “made a bind so that no harm could happen to us” by wrapping a ribbon in something and putting it in a baggie, said Martinez in morning testimony.
Martinez and Baldonado testified they stabbed and beat Rudy Montoya after Rhiannon Montoya had dropped them off near his home and Rhiannon waited in the car.
Baldonado, testifying calmly and deliberately Tuesday afternoon, told of popping Valium the day of the murder and smoking heroin before Rhiannon Montoya suggested they go and take care of her uncle. Martinez also testified she was a heroin addict and went into withdrawal after the killing.
Rhiannon told the two women that “her inheritance would be a lot bigger with him out of the picture,” said Baldonado, adding that Montoya and another uncle would then be able to divide her elderly grandfather’s money and property two ways instead of three.
The grandfather, José Montoya, in his 90s and hard of hearing, lived with Rudy Montoya, but slept through the killing. He is now deceased.
The night of the killing, Baldonado testified, Rhiannon “told me she would give me $10,000 and a piece of property” to kill Rudy and “me and Sheanee, I guess, agreed on it and I said ‘Let’s go right now.’ ”
Prosecutor Juan Valencia asked Baldonado if she thought at the time carrying out the murder was a good idea. “Yeah, it was a lot of money,” she answered. She said the property she was offered in Truchas by Rhiannon Montoya was worth $35,000.
“If her (Rhiannon’s) grandpa dies, if her uncle Rudy is out of the picture she would get more money out of it,” said Baldonado.
After arriving at Rudy Montoya’s home in the middle of the night, the two killers claimed they had car trouble to persuade him to let them inside. Baldonado said that Rudy was acting “nice” and even though she had visited there previously with Rhiannon Montoya, he did not recognize her because she had dyed her hair pink and blue.
Baldonado told of how Martinez stabbed Rudy Montoya first, but that she – Baldonado – joined in with a stabbing frenzy of which she remembers little.
“I ended up hitting him with the bat” in the shoulder, said Baldonado. “He yelled at us to get out and then Sheanee started stabbing him. I hit him a couple of more times,” said Baldonado. Montoya then grabbed the bat and Baldonado only remembers “bit and pieces” after that, she said. “I don’t remember how I ended up with the knife, and when I started to stab him, I blacked out.”
Baldonado said she “panicked, like freaking out” after the killing. When the two women returned to Rhiannon’s nearby car, Rhiannon “asked if we did it and then asked us if we took anything.” When they said no, “She told us we had to go back and take something or it would look bad on her” if the crime didn’t look like a burglary.
Martinez and Baldonado went back and took a flat screen TV, laptop computer, Rudy Montoya’s car and other items as the bloody body lay in a utility room, said Baldonado. “I was trying not to look,” she said.
They also took one more item. “Rhiannon needed a microwave so we took the microwave,” said Baldonado.
While Martinez was on the stand, a team of public defenders tried to show inconsistencies in what she’d told to police and to attorneys. She said she “didn’t remember” in response to many questions but said she was being truthful on the witness stand. Baldonado is expected to face cross examination today.
Martinez testified that Rhiannon Montoya wanted her to “take the fall” for the killing because she was the youngest and would face the least prison time and that she agreed.
Martinez said she needed a heroin fix badly the day of the killing and agreed that Rhiannon Montoya “made her feel like a low life” and had told Martinez she would probably die soon from heroin use.