ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of six suspects charged with first-degree murder in the April shooting death of an Ignacio, Colo., man had his charges dropped Thursday in Colorado’s 6th Judicial District Court, The Durango Herald reported.
Joe Ray Vallejos, 27, appeared relieved and began sobbing moments after accepting a plea agreement with prosecutors for making false reports to law enforcement — a significantly reduced charge compared to premeditated murder, The Herald said.
Vallejos, who has served 100 days in jail, was given credit for time served and released Thursday, the paper reported.
Vallejos had no idea his friends were going to kill Joey Benavidez on April 3 in Ignacio, his defense attorney Tom Williamson said.
The Farmington resident was a passenger in a car used by several New Mexico residents who are suspected of drving from Farmington to Ignacio to kill Benavidez in a drug deal gone bad, according to The Herald.
The other suspects, who are still charged with murder, are Elijah Anglin, Jeremiah Mayson, Tommy Mitchell, Shanice Smith and Armondo Yazzie, The Herald said.
Details of the shooting remain sealed from the public, the paper reported.
3:31pm 5/31/12 — Arrest Total Reaches Four in April Murder Case
By ABQnews Staff
Two more men have been arrested in Farmington in connection with a drug-related murder, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Joe Vallejos, 27, and Jeremiah Mason, 21, were arrested at separate locations in Farmington Tuesday night. The two are suspected of being involved with the murder of 39-year-old Joey Benavidez on Apr. 3, a release from the Marshals said.
On the night of the murder, Tommy Mitchell and Elijah Anglin, 18, allegedly drove to Ignacio, Co., to collect money for a drug debt from Benavidez, the release said. When he did not have the money, Mitchell and Anglin allegedly shot him multiple times, killing him.
Anglin was arrested the next night in Colorado, and Mitchell was arrested a few days later in Farmington, both on charges on murder.
After the La Plata County Sheriff’s Department conducted more interviews, new information was obtained linking Vallegos and Mason to the murder as well, and possibly being at the scene, the release said. Arrest warrants were issued, and the two were arrested. Both are awaiting extradition to Colorado to face charges.