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Woman charged with murder in Saturday night shooting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An afternoon birthday celebration at a Southeast Albuquerque apartment complex ended Saturday evening when a woman fatally shot her boyfriend in the head, according to police.

Karen Henderson

Karen Henderson

Karen Henderson, 51, is charged with murder in the shooting death of Rueben Zepeda, according to a criminal complaint. Police said Henderson shot Zepeda shortly after he hit her twice in the head with the butt of a shotgun. The two, along with friends, were celebrating their birthdays at their shared apartment in the 400 block of Chama, near Zuni and Louisiana.

APD officers were dispatched to the apartment complex around 6:15 p.m. Saturday, and they found Zepeda lying face down on the pavement at the bottom of a staircase. He was bleeding “severely” from a wound on the top of his head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Henderson told police that she and Zepeda bought alcohol at about noon that day. Henderson, Zepeda and Zepeda’s brother, who also lives at the apartment, all started drinking, according to the complaint. Other party guests arrived throughout the afternoon.

Henderson told officers that she has three shotguns in her home along with a pistol, all of which she keeps “as protection since she sells narcotics from her apartment,” according to the complaint. Police reported that Henderson had been convicted of a felony within the last 10 years and is not permitted to possess firearms.

Henderson told police Zepeda became “more and more aggressive” as he drank. At one point, he picked up a shotgun and held it while making “snippy remarks” to his guests.

Zepeda and his brother started arguing, and Zepeda struck his brother with the shotgun, sparking a physical fight, according to police. One of the guests took the shotgun away, and the brothers continued to fight until they “tired themselves out” and they both left the apartment.

Henderson put the shotgun in her bedroom hoping that neither of the “agitated” “intoxicated” men would have access to it. But Zepeda returned, took the gun, and stood outside where he continued to “yell and curse.”

When he came back in, he started yelling at Henderson, who told police that she attempted to de-escalate the situation. But, she said, Zepeda “aggressively approached her in the kitchen and struck her twice” in the head with the butt of the shotgun.

“He leveled the barrel of the shotgun at her, but then ran out of the apartment with it,” police reported.

Henderson followed him outside, taking a pistol with her.

“She chased (Zepeda) out of the apartment,” police said in the complaint. As Zepeda ran down the stairs, Henderson reportedly pointed the handgun over the railing, and “fired one round without aiming or looking,” police said.

Zepeda’s brother had returned to the area and was outside when Henderson fired the gun. She told police that she heard him scream that she had shot Zepeda.

“She looked over the railing and saw that Reuben was facedown at the bottom of the staircase,” according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, Two of the people who had been at the apartment drinking were already in their car ready to leave the area, and Henderson got inside. As they drove south on Chama Street, police made contact with the vehicle. Henderson reportedly “made excited utterances” that she had shot Zepeda, police said. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment of her injuries. She was interviewed by police at around 2 a.m., following her release.

Henderson was carrying a red and black coin purse when police initially made contact with her. They reported that the bag contained 41.14 grams of meth and 18 grams of heroin packaged. Police allege that the substances were packaged for sale. Along with the open count of murder, Henderson is charged with two counts of trafficking controlled substances and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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