The Lemitar man arrested in connection with the July 3 slaying of Christopher Heath and Jerid Trujillo has been released from jail after the state withdrew its motion for pretrial detention. Trenton Paul McDaniel (also known as Fowler), 21, is currently on house arrest in the custody of his grandparents and is fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet.
According to court documents, Seventh District Judge Mercedes Murphy made the ruling on July 19 after a motion from prosecuting attorney Stacy Ward that “the state is agreeing to the defendant’s release.”
Ward told the Chieftain on Friday that a critical witness has yet to be located, and that in the interest of justice both parties needed more time to develop discovery and prepare for the preliminary examination.
Defense attorney, Assed Ahmad of Albuquerque, said it was too early to comment, but that the decision to release McDaniel to house arrest was proper.
The case stems from an incident in the early morning hours of July 3 at a residence in the 500 block of Sixth Street in Socorro.
The criminal complaint filed by New Mexico State Police said that Socorro police officers responded to a 911 “shots fired” call at 12:43 a.m. On arrival, officers found the two deceased males outside the residence at 506 Sixth Street; one near the front door and the other in the yard south of the residence. Numerous casings and a cartridge were located on the property, the sidewalk, and in the street.
As reported in the July 7 Chieftain, witnesses inside the residence told officers that they called 911 when they heard between 30 and 40 gunshots. A surveillance camera at the home was operating but did not record.
In the criminal complaint, the witnesses in the home said the camera showed Trujillo “jump back,” and subsequently heard the gunfire, but did not realize the two men had died until exiting the home. They exited only after officers arrived and described a white Infinity as being in the area and leaving.
The Infinity was pulled over by a Valencia County Sheriff’s deputy following the broadcast of a “Be On The Lookout” (BOLO). McDaniel and a relative were detained and transferred to the State Police office in Socorro.
McDaniel had a 9mm handgun on his person when he was detained, the complaint said. After being given his Miranda warning, McDaniel requested to speak to a sergeant and said he would explain what happened if he was promised his relative would be let go. He was advised the sergeant could not promise him anything and the interview was terminated.
The relative volunteered to talk, denying any involvement in the deaths. He said in the complaint that McDaniel had dropped him off at his sister’s house at 11 p.m. and left to run an errand for about an hour and picked him back up to drive back to Albuquerque. He stated he was unaware McDaniel was in possession of the pistol.
The Socorro Police Department turned the case over to the State Police due to the forensics necessary in the case, said Police Chief Mike Winders.
McDaniel’s preliminary hearing in District Court is scheduled for August 17 at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 1.