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Arrest made in serious beating

Orlando Johnson, 27 (MDC)

On Saturday evening, detectives say, Sallyann Ulibarri sent her friends text messages saying she almost died and indicating she was afraid of her boyfriend.

The next day, she was found bruised, battered and barely breathing in her apartment near Lomas and Eubank NE.

Her boyfriend, Orlando Johnson, 27, was arrested Monday and is charged with aggravated battery on a household member.

Ulibarri was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital in critical, but unstable, condition.

Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said Tuesday that Ulibarri is brain dead.

He said detectives expect to update the criminal complaint to charge Johnson with murder.

The investigation began Sunday afternoon when officers were called to the Siegel Suites “flexible-stay” apartments at 75 Hotel Circle for an aggravated battery call.

When the officers arrived, they talked with the manager who told them she had gone to Ulibarri’s room to see if she had checked out and found the woman “lying on the bed, unresponsive, ‘horribly bruised’ and struggling to breathe.”

The manager told detectives Johnson was still in the room and he said she had been in that condition “since this morning.”

Then, she said, he packed up his belongings and fled.

The couple had previously had several loud fights and Johnson had been banned from the complex, according to the complaint.

Detectives talked with a friend who said Ulibarri had told her previously that Johnson had “choked her out” and Saturday night, she texted saying “I almost died AGAIN.”

She had also texted a neighbor Saturday night asking for help and saying “I’m just trying to get away from getting hit,” according to the complaint.

Around the same time detectives began investigating what happened to Ulibarri, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and killed at the same location. The two incidents do not appear to be related.

U.S. Marshals arrested Johnson on a federal probation violation warrant Monday. He had been convicted of stealing $16 from another man on the Navajo Nation in 2014.

Johnson has been charged twice before with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, although no details of those cases were immediately available. One of those cases, in 2009, was dismissed; he pleaded guilty to another in 2012.

When Johnson was interviewed, he gave APD detectives “multiple, inconsistent statements,” according to the complaint. He said he had left the suite Saturday night and returned Sunday morning. He said Ulibarri told him she got into a fight with another woman and was relaxing in the bathtub when the manager arrived at the room.

The District Attorney’s Office has filed a motion to hold Johnson in jail until his trial. That motion will be the subject of a hearing before a judge.