Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
In 2015, police say, Christy Vasquez paid a hit man $20,000 to kill her on-again, off-again boyfriend of several years, according to recently unsealed documents obtained by the Journal.
It took more than two years to arrest and charge her with murder, but on Tuesday a key witness didn’t show up to the grand jury hearing, so she’ll be released while the District Attorney’s Office decides what to do next.
On Feb. 18, 2015, 32-year-old Raymond Gutierrez was found shot to death in his Cadillac Escalade after it skidded through an open field and crashed into the backyard of a house in a Northwest Albuquerque subdivision. He had been shot nine times in his head and neck.
More than two years later – in March 2017 – after multiple people told detectives Vasquez, 40, had paid someone to kill Gutierrez, she was arrested and charged with murder, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Metropolitan Court.
The hit man has not been publicly identified.
And Vasquez will be released on her own recognizance because the attorneys with the DA’s Office didn’t believe they had enough evidence to bring the case before the grand jury.
Michael Patrick, a DA’s Office spokesman, said a crucial witness for the prosecution didn’t show up to the hearing Tuesday morning.
“We were under the impression that the person was going to be there,” Patrick said. “But that person chose not to make it, and there was nothing we could do.”
Ray Twohig, Vasquez’s attorney, said Vasquez is innocent, and she should have been released from jail days ago.
He said the DA’s Office fumbled her release by submitting the wrong case number in District Court.
“They assured me it would be done (Wednesday), then that it would be done (Thursday),” Twohig said. “I’m going to beat down some doors at the courthouse.”
He has filed a motion for the case to be dismissed, but it is unclear if it will be.
Gutierrez and Vasquez, who police say were both dealing drugs, had a contentious six-year relationship and broke up and got back together frequently, Gutierrez’s sister Lucia Sprunk said in an interview.
Police reports and criminal complaints dating back to 2011 detail verbal arguments and one incident of physical abuse between the couple. And a source told police Gutierrez had given Vasquez a black eye over Christmas, according to the affidavit.
Sprunk said she didn’t like Vasquez and had worried that she was trying to keep her brother away from his three children. But, she said, she thought Vasquez loved her brother, and the two had even talked about getting married.
“They had just gotten back together recently,” Sprunk said. “But my nephew had told us that on Valentine’s Day night they were fighting.”
Four days later, Gutierrez was found dead in his SUV in the 8900 block of Cloudy NW.
It wasn’t long before tipsters began coming to police to say Vasquez had hired someone to kill him, according to the affidavit.
The tipsters said Vasquez’s sons and other family members believed she had paid for Gutierrez to be killed.
“(Christy’s mother) is worried for her grandsons because the burden of the homicide is tearing the family apart,” the detective wrote in the affidavit.
One anonymous source said Vasquez had arranged to use her mother as an alibi for the night Gutierrez was killed, according to the affidavit. The source wanted to remain anonymous out of fear Vasquez would retaliate.
Another concerned citizen told police that Vasquez was a “big time drug dealer” and had a storage unit where she kept large amounts of cash. Besides allegedly paying $20,000 for a hit man, detectives found that Vasquez had recently put down $32,000 in cash for a West Side house, according to the affidavit.
Twohig, Vasquez’s attorney, denies all the allegations against his client and said the entire case is built on rumors and lies.
He said witnesses who were called to the stand at a pre-trial detention hearing were unconvincing.
“The only evidence that was produced was the detective and the mother – and she doesn’t know anything about it,” Twohig said. “(The detective’s) testimony was mostly rumors.”