ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The man who killed a retired Albuquerque lawyer and the woman he was renting a room to in January 2018 – dumping their bodies by the side of a road in a town about 45 miles east of the city – has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and other charges.
Michael Patrick, the spokesman for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said James Knight, 33, will spend at least 30 years in prison under the terms of the plea agreement.
He said the families of the victims, 70-year-old Eugene Carrell Ray and Zakaria Fry, 28, were mostly in agreement about the plea deal. He said Ray’s daughter did not approve of the deal.
“Our concern was ability to prove premeditation before the crime occurred,” Patrick wrote in an email. “That is why we did a second-degree murder agreement.”
Patrick said the prosecution’s theory of the case was Knight went to Ray’s house and beat the two with a golf club and then disposed of the bodies.
“He used (Ray’s) car and credit cards after the murder,” Patrick said. “The only thing putting him at the scene was DNA on the club.”
Knight’s attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Ray, a prominent attorney, had a career that spanned 40 years. He was an assistant attorney general and then a supervising attorney in the child support enforcement division. He had opened his own family law practice and served as a part-time judge for domestic cases.
He was renting a room in his Northeast Albuquerque home to Fry, a transgender woman from Indiana who moved to New Mexico several years ago.
Family members reported the two missing in mid-January after they hadn’t been heard from in several days. Ray’s Northeast Albuquerque home was in disarray, and authorities suspected they had been hurt or killed.
About a month later, a rancher found their bodies a couple of miles apart from one another, stuffed in containers by the side of the road in Stanley.
Detectives found security camera footage that showed Knight – also known as Charles Spiess – using Ray’s and Fry’s credit cards and driving Ray’s car. They said he knew the pair and had possibly been living with them at the time.