Five arrested in 2020 killing in Taos County - Albuquerque Journal

Five arrested in 2020 killing in Taos County

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Five Taos County residents each face multiple felony charges in the 2020 shooting and stabbing death of a man whose decomposed body was found last year in a forested area near Vadito.

The skeletal remains of Leroy Damasio Fresquez were found March 8, 2021, about three months after family members reported him missing around Thanksgiving Day 2020.

New Mexico State Police received key information about the killing in a letter written by a witness, according to a police affidavit.

The letter said that, on Nov. 26, 2020, Fresquez became upset about a missing gun and a bag of heroin, prompting others to plan his murder, the affidavit said.

Juanita Romero, 39, Precious Aguilar, 21, Ronnie Tafoya, 32, and Ezekiel Martinez, 33, each are charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated battery, and multiple counts of conspiracy and tampering with evidence in connection with Fresquez’s death.

Steven Aguilar, 45, is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, kidnapping and other charges in the killing.

Taos County officials have asked a judge to hold all five in custody while awaiting trial.

Court records show that Taos County officials issued warrants for their arrests April 25.

Romero also faces six counts of drug trafficking in Bernalillo County stemming from her April 26 arrest at an Albuquerque motel. Officers found her in possession of methamphetamine, heroin and crack cocaine when they arrested her on the Taos County charges, according to a criminal complaint.

State Police allege the five conspired to kill Fresquez and drove to a remote location near Vadito for the purpose.

According to the letter, Fresquez was sitting in the front passenger seat of a vehicle when Romero began stabbing him from the seat behind him, the complaint said.

An occupant of the car told police he threw the knife beside a roadway where it was later found by police.

Fresquez exited the vehicle and “ran into the mountains” with Romero and Martinez in pursuit, armed with a .380-caliber pistol, the complaint said. Witnesses told investigators they later heard a single gunshot.

A witness also told investigators she saw Romero and Martinez cleaning the vehicle with bleach and burning blood-stained clothing, the complaint said.

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