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Man charged in Santa Fe woman’s death

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The Santa Fe Police Department investigates the death of a women at the Vista Alegre Apartments at the corner of Zepol Road and Airport Road in Santa Fe on Thursday. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – The Santa Fe Police Department arrested a 26-year-old man on an open count of murder and several other charges following a woman’s death at a Zepol Road apartment early Thursday.

Santa Fe Police announced Thursday evening that Chris Garcia was taken to the Santa Fe County jail. He also faces counts of tampering with evidence, aggravated battery and aggravated burglary.

The victim was identified as 21-year-old Selena Valencia, who police say was romantically involved with Garcia. However, a statement provided by SFPD said it is unknown if their relationship had any connection to the alleged homicide.

Police spokesman Greg Gurulé said police originally responded to a burglary at Valencia’s home at the Vista Alegre Apartments at 1469 Zepol around 1 a.m. and the case evolved into a homicide investigation.

Gurulé said he is unsure if Garcia lived at the apartment complex with Valencia on a permanent basis.

“(Their relationship) put them together there … (at least) from time to time,” he said.

Gurule said he could not say what caused her death, but that it involved some kind of weapon.

“[Their relationship] put them together there…[at least] from time to time,” he said.

All of Zepol Road was shut down for the investigation Thursday morning. Residents of area apartments were asked to park at the Chamisa Shopping Center on Airport Road and walk to their homes.

Valencia’s death marks Santa Fe’s second homicide in the past several days, and Gurulé said it’s the fourth homicide this year, compared to the four total in 2016. “It’s not adding up very well,” he said.

On June 17, Tim Baca, 30, was found dead in the street on Viento del Norte and Calle Mejia early Saturday. Chris Owens, also 30, who ended up with Baca, Baca’s wife and others at two nightspots in the early morning hours, is charged with an open count of murder for Baca’s death.

A criminal complaint said Owens and Baca were arguing over a song during a ride back to Santa Fe from the Buffalo Thunder Casino and Resort in Pojoaque. When the driver pulled over and everyone got out of the car, Owens allegedly shot Baca twice.

It’s still possible another recent case could become a homicide. The June 14 death of 31-year-old Sheryl Flores remains under investigation by the county sheriff’s office. She was found dead and covered in blood, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Santa Fe District Court. Flores had a PIC line – a catheter that allows for intravenous access for a prolonged period of time – in her right arm, and her mother told a detective that she was being treated for a blood infection.

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