Northern New Mexico suspect in 2017 killing spree found competent

Judges to determine whether defendant will stand trial

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 1/15/20

State mental health experts have found an Ojo Caliente man charged with killing three of his family members and two strangers in 2017 competent, according to the district attorney in Taos.

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Northern New Mexico suspect in 2017 killing spree found competent

Judges to determine whether defendant will stand trial

Posted

Updated Jan. 16 at 4:20 p.m.

State mental health experts have found an Ojo Caliente man charged with killing three of his family members and two strangers in 2017 competent, according to the district attorney in Taos.

Eighth Judicial District Attorney Marcus Montoya said judges presiding over two cases filed for the alleged murders will make the final call regarding whether Damian Herrera is prepared to stand trial.

Montoya's prosecutors are pursuing a first-degree homicide case in the death of Michael Alan Kyte of Tres Piedras. Kyte was one of two men investigators believe Damian Herrera slayed at random after he allegedly shot and killed his mother, stepfather and brother at his family's home in La Madera on June 15, 2017.

Charges connected to the murders of Herrera's family and Manuel Serrano, another stranger Herrera is accused of killing at a gas station in Abiquiú the day of the killing spree, are being prosecuted separately by a team of state attorneys in New Mexico's 1st Judicial District.

Questions regarding Herrera's mental health were raised in the immediate aftermath of the shootings by two of Herrera's surviving sisters, who said their brother had told them he heard voices. Last summer, Herrera was sent to the state hospital in Las Vegas after the courts deemed him "incompetent," or mentally incapable, to stand trial.

On Wednesday (Jan. 15), Montoya said the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute released its final report, declaring Herrera competent.

The state and defense attorneys in either case will argue whether Herrera is ready for trial.

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