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Man pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder, 35 more charges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque man accused in the death of a local deacon is facing up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and 35 more charges.

Daniel Sandoval

Daniel Lee Sandoval, 20, was one of five then-teens charged with running down Hector Aguirre, a carpenter and deacon, who police said was hit while attempting to stop the group from stealing his work van.

Sandoval is the third of five accused in the homicide to plead, according to court records.

The agreement, which he accepted before 2nd Judicial District Judge Charles Brown, resolves three pending criminal cases against him, including a racketeering case filed in March.

In total, prosecutors agreed to dismiss an additional 48 charges against Sandoval in exchange for his guilty pleas to predominantly nonviolent crimes, according to his attorney.

Police said Aguirre had been working at a Northwest Albuquerque home when he heard his work van start.

One of Sandoval’s co-defendants, Dominic Jiminez, told police that Sandoval was driving the van when it “hit the guy” as he held onto the windshield wipers, according to a criminal complaint. Sandoval told police that Jiminez was the driver.

Sandoval also said the group had been using methamphetamine when they found a van with the keys still inside, according to court documents.

Sandoval’s attorney, John McCall, said his client’s precise role remains unclear.

“Once everybody kind of knew that everybody else was talking to the police, they all sort of rushed to blame each other,” McCall said. “So it’s really hard to put it together.”

McCall said Sandoval’s meth use became “an intense driver of all of the issues” and that the homicide was an unexpected and “extremely tragic turn of events” during what might otherwise have been “another day of probably taking cars.”