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Detectives have arrested a man suspected of beating another person to death with a tree branch Monday night.
Keith Bird, 50, of Santo Domingo Pueblo is charged with murder. The victim has not been identified.
Around 8:30 p.m., officers were called to an alley behind Vassar SE just south of Central on reports that two men were fighting. They found a man dead when they arrived.
A witness told police he had seen the two men arguing over a backpack and then one beating the other with a tree branch, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court. He said he yelled for the offender to stop and saw him run off, carrying a large backpack.
According to the complaint, shortly after the slaying, Bird called 911 to say he was behind a nearby Walgreens and had “battered a male with a stick” and wanted to speak with police. He said he did not know whether the man he had beaten needed medical treatment.
Officers took Bird into custody, and he told them he had arrived in Albuquerque around 3 p.m. and in the evening went to Walgreens and purchased alcohol. He said he took two shots of alcohol and then went to the bus stop across the street. That’s where he encountered his friend Eli. He said Eli “was in a bad mood and began to pick a fight” with him.
“Keith said Eli pushed Keith and then fell on top of Keith,” the detective wrote in the complaint. “This caused Keith to strike his back on the curb. Keith stated this made him angry so he told Eli to go to the alley, behind Panera Bread restaurant, so he and Eli could fight.”
Bird told detectives he put Eli into a chokehold and Eli tried to punch him so he released him and grabbed a “stick” to beat Eli in the face, according to the complaint. He said he hit him about 10 times and stopped when he saw people in the alley.
“I explained to Keith that Eli was deceased,” the detective wrote in the complaint. “Keith told me that Eli shouldn’t have made him mad.”
It’s unclear who Bird’s attorney will be.