Murderer convicted of stabbing in prison
Man convicted of killing a Sandia High school student during a homecoming party and suspected of shooting a young woman playing Pokémon Go faces new charges inside the county jail after deputies said he stabbed another inmate more than 20 times in revenge for killing his brother. .
Izaiah Garcia, 21, is now charged with aggravated assault, possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner and tampering with evidence. Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies said he used a 6-8 inch long rod made from the broken top of a mop or broomstick to stab 21-year-old Christopher Byers.
Byers is charged with murder in the death of Thomas Nunn, 16, Garcia’s half-brother.
He had been moved to the same pod that Garcia had housed the day before the April 21 attack.
A Bernalillo County spokeswoman said Byers was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital, treated for superficial injuries, and returned to the Metropolitan Detention Center the same day.
The stabbing happened in the state’s largest prison’s Echo Unit – the same unit where another inmate is accused of beating his cellmate to death last fall. In this case, three correctional officers were each supervising two groups – each group has 32 cells – rather than one officer per group.
In this case, a Bernalillo County spokesperson said a correctional officer was assigned to the group where the stabbings took place.
Noah Gelb, an attorney representing Byers, said the incident was concerning.
“It is the prison’s responsibility to ensure the health and safety of those confined there, so it is very disturbing that this situation could have occurred,” Gelb said in a statement. “We are increasingly vigilant about the security of our customers hosted at the MDC.”
According to a criminal complaint filed with the Metropolitan Court, at around 9:45 a.m. Byers was standing outside an upper level cell talking to another inmate when Garcia walked out of his cell to the shower.
The upper level was locked at the time, but as a bay orderly, Garcia was able to leave his cell. He was also able to speak with other inmates and access cleaning supplies and “other items that could have been used to make a rod,” according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, the inmate in the cell next to Garcia’s cell waved Byers upstairs just before Garcia stabbed him.
Deputies reviewed video of the incident, which they said showed Garcia leaving the shower and walking back to Byers with his hand in his uniform. Then the video shows him pulling out a large piece of sharpened plastic.
“Garcia begins to repeatedly drive the rod into Byers’ neck as his back faces Garcia,” the deputy wrote in the complaint. “Byers doesn’t seem to have time to react to Garcia’s attack…Garcia appears to stab or attempt to stab Byers over 20 times and says ‘it’s for my brother’.”
A correctional officer who was overseeing the pod told deputies that she was sitting at the officer’s desk and noticed the commotion but did not immediately see what was happening. She said that on her way up there she saw Garcia stabbing Byers with “something long and sharp.”
The officer sprayed Garcia with pepper spray and that stopped the attack.
The officer saw Garcia flush the rod down the toilet and then handcuffed him, according to the complaint. Byers was taken to hospital.
Garcia’s case has been assigned to the public defender’s law firm, but no lawyer has yet been appointed.
Bernalillo County spokesman Larry Gallegos said Garcia is no longer a bay medic and that he and Byers have been moved to “alternative housing areas to include alerts entered into the management system. offenders guaranteeing that they are not housed in the same area in the future.”
He said all serious incidents, including this one, are referred to the MDC’s Professional Standards Unit office for investigation. No policies or procedures have changed at this time.
Byers was arrested in early February after deputies said he and 15-year-old Elias Acuna-Whitley robbed and killed Nunn on January 23. Nunn was found dead on a Southwest Mesa.
Acuna-Whitley was killed in a possible accidental shooting two days later, and Byers was injured in a January 28 shooting. It is unclear whether the Byers shooting was related to Nunn’s death.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, messages between Byers and Acuna-Whitley showed they planned to rob someone, likely Nunn, and also considered shooting him. When Acuna-Whitley was shot, he was taken to the hospital in Nunn’s car.
In August, Garcia was convicted of the murder of 17-year-old Sean Markey in September 2019. Markey was hit by a stray bullet and was not the intended target.
Prosecutors said Garcia confronted another teenager outside the party and began chasing and shooting him, but Markey was hit. Garcia’s lawyer had argued that at least seven people were firing guns – five of which were of the same caliber – so it’s impossible to know who fired the fatal shot.
Garcia has not yet been convicted but faces a minimum sentence of 30 years.
He is also accused of shooting 21-year-old Cayla Campos, who was playing Pokémon Go with her boyfriend when her car was sprayed with bullets in a park in northeast Albuquerque.
That trial is scheduled for June.
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