Top stories of 2018 in SLV: #5--2018 not homicide free for SLV

Three have been arrested for the murder of Mathias Fritz at this location on August 9./Courier photo by Keith R. Cerny

VALLEY — The San Luis Valley experienced a few homicides this year and resolved several from previous years.

• Alamosan Elias “Lee” Narciso Gallegos, 74, was arrested in connection with the stabbing death of his wife Lorraine Gallegos, 71, at their home on County Road 110 South on July 27. Lee Gallegos also had several puncture wounds that he told EMS personnel were self inflicted and that he stabbed himself because he killed his wife but did not know why. Family members said Lee Gallegos suffered from Frontal Lobe Dementia. His case is pending.

• Three men were taken into custody for the August 9th shooting death of Mathias Fritz, 40, of Alamosa and the shooting of Alma Salazar, who is recovering in an undisclosed location. Charged with murder in the first degree, kidnapping, robbery, felony menacing and multiple crimes of violence enhancers were Shem M. Brown, 26, of Monte Visa, Robert P. Martinez, 29, of Del Norte, and Shawndon J. McVey, 25, of Texas and most recently living between Monte Vista and Alamosa. The crime occurred in the early morning hours of August 9 in an apartment above the Extreme Graphics office near Vendola Plumbing & Heating in East Alamosa.

• Saguache business owner Steven Heimberg, 58, was arrested on charges of second degree-murder for the fatal shooting death of Rich Wharton, 42, at the Lumber Mart in Saguache on September 7. Heimberg had seen Wharton on the roof and told authorities he shot at him when he saw Wharton coming towards him and he felt threatened by him.

• In another fatal shooting involving a businessman in the Valley, 12th Judicial District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen decided not to file charges against Antonito business owner Felix Gallegos for the fatal shooting of Byron Duran, 26, of Antonito at Gallegos’ business on the early morning of September 1. “It is our conclusion based upon the applicable law and the facts and circumstances of this case, that a jury is likely to conclude that Felix Gallegos’ actions meet the legal requirement of the affirmative defense contained,” the DA stated. After instructing a family member to call authorities Duran responded to a burglary at his business, G6 Hamburger Stand, 210 Main St., in Antonito on the early morning of Saturday, September 1. Gallegos told authorities Duran charged at him as he exited the building, and Gallegos, who was armed, fired his weapon, striking Duran. Duran was later pronounced deceased.

Resolved cases

Several pending homicides from previous years were also resolved this year:

• Perry Hotz, 22, pleaded guilty in January to an added felony child abuse recklessly causing death charge in connection with the October 11, 2016 death of his daughter Alexis, 5 1/2 months old. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

• On March 22 former Boulder Mayor Bob Greenlee, 78, was sentenced to 10 years of supervised probation, a fine of $50,000 and useful community service for criminally negligent homicide, two counts of careless driving and one count of reckless driving for the five-car crash Dec. 28, 2016 that took the life of Alamosan Pat Lucero, 70. Greenlee pleaded guilty Jan. 11 to four of nine original criminal counts for his role in the crash, though he maintained he could not remember anything about the incident. He was hospitalized with head injuries after the incident.

• Angel Nieto, 32, was sentenced in May to 12 years in prison — plus three 30-day jail terms for contempt of court (repeatedly interrupting the judge) — on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving death associated with the January 2017 death of Marcie Quintana, 24. The judge also ordered more than $15,000 in restitution as well as the cost for a head stone for Quintana, approximately $1,500, which the family has not been able to afford.

• Santos Nevares, 27, on August 17 pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder in connection with murders committed January 15, 2017 near Capulin. District Judge Martin Gonzales ordered the sentences to run concurrently: life without parole on the first-degree murder charges; and 48 years in the Department of Corrections on the second-degree murder charge. Victims were Guadalupe “Lupe” Cervantes, who was celebrating his 57th birthday at his home just outside Capulin, when Nevares began shooting, Jose M. Archuleta, 54 and Marissa Cervantez. Victim Don L. “Kinki” Martinez, 36, survived the shooting.

• On November 14 Carol Carpenter, 70, Blanca, was found guilty of felony negligence causing death of an at-risk person in connection with the death of her son, Corey, 27, on Oct. 22, 2015. Corey suffered from “fragile X” syndrome and ultimately starved to death, as his mother was unable to get him to eat. She had been living with her disabled son in a trailer on the side of Mt. Blanca and was trying to care for him by herself after her husband’s death. She will be sentenced January 16.

• Lamberto Castillo, 66, who was living in Alamosa at the time of his arrest last year, pleaded guilty on November 16 to manslaughter in connection with two killings that occurred in California in 1994. Castillo pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 19 years and four months in state prison for the March 31, 1994, shooting deaths of Kenny Paul Sommer, 23, and Chen ‘Cosmo’ Maui Blanchard, 23, in Huntington Beach, California.