A 32-year-old man from Chamisal was arraigned this week on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence related to the death of his younger brother, who suffered a fatal gunshot wound …
A 32-year-old man from Chamisal was arraigned this week on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence related to the death of his younger brother, who suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest while the siblings were drinking in Peñasco early the morning of May 23.
A grand jury indicted Dominic Arguello on the charges June 6. But at an arraignment Thursday (June 13), Arguello pleaded not guilty to killing his brother, Shane Arguello, 30, claiming that his brother had instead shot himself.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Taos Magistrate Court on May 24, Dominic Arguello initially declined to speak with New Mexico State Police agents about the incident, but later said that his younger brother had become suicidal after a night of drinking that spilled into the early hours of May 23.
At one point, he said his younger brother put a gun to his own head as they were standing outside his trailer in Peñasco. Dominic Arguello said when he tried to knock the gun away, his brother shot himself in the chest.
But state police agents say Arguello’s story doesn’t match up with evidence uncovered by their investigation.
Agent Alexander Bennett, who prepared the affidavit for Arguello’s arrest, notes that the entry and exit wounds on the younger brother’s body – through the area near the right nipple and out the lower right of the back – would have been unlikely for a self-inflicted gunshot.
“The approximate angle of this entry and exit wound does not lend itself to the theory that Shane had been attempting to shoot himself and then had the gun knocked down from his head,” Bennett wrote.
Shane Arguello’s girlfriend, Amy Martinez, said she was sitting in her car outside the trailer when the shooting took place, but said she didn’t witness the exact moment the shot was fired.
“I don’t know how it happened, but Shane had the gun,” she told police, later adding: “Dominic tried to tell me that Shane tried to shoot himself in the head, and that he actually kinda swung at his hand to make sure he missed. I don’t know how true that is.”
After the shooting, Arguello and Martinez drove Shane Arguello to Presbyterian Española Hospital, where he died as medical staff were preparing to life-flight him to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
Police found the gun believed to have been used in the shooting “partially hidden” in Martinez’s car. Agents have alleged that Dominic Arguello placed it there in an effort to hide evidence.
Martinez said Dominic Arguello had brought the gun to his brother’s home, but that Shane Arguello had taken it from him because his brother was distraught over a breakup.
“We don’t trust Dominic when he gets depressed, he gets a little crazy and he wants to kill himself and that’s why Shane took it away from him,” Martinez said.
Agent Bennett noted similar statements about Dominic Arguello’s behavior that were given by the brothers’ parents, who said Arguello had threatened to kill them and his brother six months earlier in Albuquerque.
Court records indicate that a Dominic Arguello, whose birthday was not listed in the case, appealed a 2011 case for negligent use of a deadly weapon while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Taos District Court Judge Emilio Chavez, who has been assigned to the case, approved a state motion to hold Arguello in jail without bond on Friday (June 14).
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