From Abeyto’s appeal: There are differing versions as to what occurred at Defendant’s home in Chimayo on January 26, 1991. The following account is a necessarily incomplete recounting of the events surrounding the seven deaths that occurred that Saturday afternoon. Because of the large number of persons involved, we give a brief summary of their relationship to the Defendant or Ignacita Sandoval, his girlfriend, and their role in the events. We use first names to avoid confusion and give the approximate ages of the children when this event occurred. Defendant and Ignacita had lived together about two years. Ignacita’s fourteen-year old son, Eloy; her nineteen-year old daughter, Mary Ellen; Mary Ellen’s twenty-one year old boyfriend, Macario; their six-month old son, Justin; and Ignacita’s sixteen-year old sister, Celina, had lived with Defendant and Ignacita at various times during this period. Ignacita decided to leave Defendant the previous Wednesday and these family members were helping her pack up her belongings. Ignacita’s twenty-five year old sister, Cheryl, along with her two young children, Roland and Nicky, also helped with the move. In addition, Ignacita hired Peter Martinez, a neighbor whom she met that morning in Chimayo, to assist with the loading.
Defendant’s mother, Mrs. Abeyta, lived next door with Defendant’s two sisters, Dora and Sandra. Mrs. Abeyta and Dora were at the scene at various times during the day. Sandra joined the group after she got home from work Saturday afternoon. Sandra’s boyfriend, Lawrence Taraddei, arrived about the same time.
Fearing Defendant would become violent, Ignacita had called for police protection while she moved. Rio Arriba County Deputy Sheriff Jerry Martinez supervised as Ignacita began packing, but he left shortly afterwards to investigate a tip on a stolen car. State Police Officer Glen Huber stopped by to assist Deputy Martinez as the packing began. After finding that everything was under control, Officer Huber left. Huber later returned when he heard about the shooting.
Following a quarrel with Defendant on the preceding Wednesday, Ignacita decided to move out of Defendant’s home and filed for a restraining order against Defendant. Ignacita and Defendant had separated on three prior occasions, and each time Ignacita removed all her possessions. Defendant asserts that each time Ignacita removed most of his possessions as well. Defendant anticipated that Ignacita would once again remove his possessions with hers.
On Saturday morning, Defendant carefully locked his home and gate before leaving for work in Santa Fe. Deputy Martinez attempted to deliver Ignacita’s restraining order that morning but declined to leave it with Defendant’s mother, Mrs. Abeyta, stating that it was improperly prepared. Around noon, Ignacita and her family arrived at Defendant’s house. Eloy cut the gate to the house with wirecutters. At that point Deputy Martinez arrived and gave the group permission to enter the house and retrieve Ignacita’s possessions. Mrs. Abeyta and Dora met Ignacita at the gate to keep her from taking Defendant’s property. Deputy Martinez again presented the restraining order to Defendant’s family, assuring them that it was now valid. Ignacita and her family proceeded to pack up her possessions while Mrs. Abeyta and Dora waited outside.
The State’s evidence tended to show that Eloy and Macario were outside the home loading the U-Haul truck. Mrs. Abeyta and Dora watched the loading and at one point Dora retrieved Defendant’s quilt that had been dropped on the ground by the porch. Shortly afterwards Defendant rapidly approached the home carrying a rifle and a revolver and engaged in an altercation with Eloy. Following that encounter, Defendant shot Eloy, wounding him in the shoulder. Defendant then shot Macario in the back with his rifle as Macario stood inside the rear compartment of the U-Haul. Upon hearing the shots, Mary Ellen grabbed her six-month-old son, Justin, and ran outside. Both mother and child were shot in the head and killed as they fled. The State’s evidence is unclear whether mother and child were killed by the same or different bullets.
According to the State’s evidence, Defendant then entered his home where Ignacita, Cheryl, and Celina were packing. He yelled that they would pay and then shot Cheryl in the back of the head as she knelt on the kitchen floor. Defendant shot Ignacita twice, first hitting her finger, then fatally shooting her in the face. Defendant may also have hit Ignacita twice on the back of the head, possibly with the gun.
The State’s evidence indicates that as Defendant left the house, he shot Eloy a second time, wounding him in the groin. Defendant encountered Deputy Martinez who had just returned and shot him in the head twice at close range while Martinez stood next to his police car. A short time later Officer Huber arrived at the scene. Defendant had already reached his mother’s house up the hill. He shot Huber in the head as the officer stood with one foot in the patrol car and the radio still in his hand. Defendant then fled to the hills behind his mother’s house. He turned himself in late the next day in Albuquerque.
Defendant’s testimony as to the events surrounding the killings differs significantly from the State’s evidence. The Defendant testified that he returned in the late afternoon from working in Santa Fe. He came home on the back road and parked at his mother’s house so he did not notice the vehicles parked at his house. He then took the paint he had purchased earlier that day down the hill to his garage. Upon seeing the moving operation, Defendant testified that he decided to take his rifle and revolver out of the garage and take them up to his mother’s house out of concern that Ignacita would also pack up everything from his garage. *fn1 He placed the revolver in the back of his waistband and picked up the rifle by the sling. As he started back up to his mother’s, he noticed that some of his clothes were being taken to the U-Haul. He went over to the house to ask them to leave his stuff. Defendant testified that as he reached the bottom of the steps, Eloy accosted him with a knife and during the scuffle cut his left hand twice. Defendant forced Eloy to drop the knife. Macario was in the back of the U-Haul where Defendant saw some of his possessions. When Defendant asked Macario what was going on, he testified Macario responded that he didn’t know, but “don’t try and stop us ’cause you won’t see tomorrow.” Defendant then saw Eloy pointing a handgun at him from the cab of the U-Haul. Defendant testified that he reacted automatically by lunging to the side and shooting, not knowing whether he had wounded Eloy. Defendant placed another round in the chamber of his rifle and put it on the porch railing. Defendant was struck on the head from behind and fell. His rifle slipped off the railing. As he grabbed at it, it discharged. *fn2 He continued to recover the rifle and unintentionally caused a third round to be injected into the chamber. He testified that he felt someone grab his revolver from the back of his waistband. As he turned around to see who had hit him, he caught a glimpse of someone walking by with a baby. Defendant testified that he was hit on the head again, and again the rifle discharged after falling out of his hands. *fn3 It landed at the bottom of the steps, where Defendant left it.
According to Defendant, he then went inside the house to find out who had hit him. He encountered Cheryl in the kitchen and, sensing trouble, grabbed her and spun her around in front of him. She screamed, “No, Rick, no Rick, stop.” Ignacita had his revolver. Cheryl screamed, “No, Ignacita,” covered her face, and started to bend over. Defendant went down with Cheryl. Defendant testified that Ignacita fired the revolver at him but hit Cheryl instead. Defendant and Ignacita struggled over the gun. Defendant testified that Ignacita again fired the revolver but her hand was in the way and the shot nearly severed the tip of her left little finger. He next saw Ignacita heading for the front door with the gun in her hand. Defendant testified that as he caught her, Ignacita bent down, trying to escape. She pointed the gun at Defendant who hit the barrel forcing it back towards her. The gun discharged, shooting Ignacita in the face. Defendant appeals his convictions based on the trial court’s refusal to give his requested jury instructions, the lack of substantial evidence in Mary Ellen’s death, and prosecutorial misconduct.
Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Arnold Martinez, 30
State Police Sgt. Glen Michael Huber, 35
Ignacita Vasquez Sandoval, 36
Mary Ellen Sandoval, 19
Macario Gonzales, 18
Justin Gonzales, 5 months
Cheryl Rendon, 24
Eloy Sandoval, 13 (survived)
Find-A-Grave: Ignacita Sandoval Vasquez
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State of New Mexico v Ricky Abeyta 1995 (conviction and sentence affirmed)
Murderpedia: Ricky Abeyta
Last Name: ABEYTA
First Name: RICKY
Offender Status: INMATE
Facility/Region: NMCD CUSTODY
Height: 5ft 5in
Eye Color: BROWN
Hair Color: BROWN
Filed under: crime, Domestic Violence, Killed in the line of duty, Mass Murder, murder, murder in the 20th Century Tagged: | 1991, homicide, Killed in the line of duty, Mass Murder, Monsters Among Us, New Mexico, shooting