Murder conviction overturned in Navajo reservation killing
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court has overturned a Gallup man’s first-degree murder conviction in a 2016 homicide, ruling that the defendant should have been allowed to present evidence that the man killed had used methamphetamine before a fatal fight.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Jan. 28 grants Brian Tony a new trial in the killing of 44-year-old Pat Garcia on the Navajo Nation’s reservation near Church Rock.
Tony denied premeditation and claimed self-defense and the trial judge allowed his defense to present evidence that Garcia’s behavior was erratic and violent.
However, the judge didn’t allow Tony to elicit evidence that Garcia’s alleged behavior resulted from being under the influence of methamphetamine.
The trial judge said Tony wasn’t entitled to present the drug-use evidence because he hadn’t identified a proper purpose, but the appeals court said the defense had done that by arguing that the evidence might have explained Garcia’s alleged behavior.