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Defendant collapses in court; drug, alcohol testing ordered

November 20, 2021 GMT

A Galllup man convicted of DWI homicide was taken to a hospital after collapsing in court minutes before he was to be sentenced, prompting a judge to delay the proceeding but also to order that the man be tested for drugs and alcohol.

Matthew Vargas, 24 faces up to 15 years in prison when he is eventually sentenced on his April conviction for homicide by vehicle involving DWI in a 2017 head-on wreck that killed Ernest Baker, 59, the Gallup Independent reported.

After Vargas collapsed Friday and complained of pain while being taken to an ambulance, state District Judge Robert Aragon postponed the sentencing but said it will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

The judge also granted a prosecutor’s request for drug and and alcohol testing to find out if they were involved in Vargas’ collapse. That’s appropriate given the nature of Vargas’ offense, said prosecutor Brett Barnes, a state assistant attorney general.


Defense attorney Val Whitley said Vargas might be on “too many medications” due to his medical condition and would likely to test positive for prescribed pain killers.

“Everything is documented that he’s taking,” Whitley said.

Vargas’ sentencing previously had been delayed three times.