New Mexico family seeks AG’s help in deadly shooting case

November 1, 2021 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The family of a northern New Mexico man killed in September has asked the state Attorney General’s Office to take over the case, saying they have concerns that the shooter is receiving preferential treatment because he is related to two judges from the area.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that David Griego called 911 after he shot John Serna, 66, and reported he had done so in self-defense. The 70-year-old Griego said during the emergency call that Serna was about to attack him and that he had done so several times in the past.

Griego stayed on the line with an emergency operator and applied pressure to a gunshot wound on Serna’s chest until help arrived.

No charges have been filed, and attempts to reach Griego for comment were unsuccessful.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are wanting the process to be a little bit more timely,” Serna’s daughter, Sahra Martinez, said in a phone interview. “We’re wanting a closer look and for more attention to be focused on this so we can get some answers.”

Todd Coberly, the family’s attorney, recently wrote to the Attorney General’s Office, questioning the claim of self-defense and detailing a loss of confidence in 4th Judicial District Attorney Thomas Clayton.

Griego is the uncle of Judges Abigail Aragon and Michael Aragon, siblings who serve on the district court in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The court’s executive officer Brenden Murphy declined on behalf of both judges to comment.

Coberly wrote that Serna’s family is concerned Griego is “being given preferential treatment given his relationship to the Aragons.”

The Attorney General’s Office said it was aware of Coberly’s request but that a district attorney’s office normally would have to decline to prosecute to clear the way for the attorney general to take over.

Clayton, the district attorney whose territory encompasses Mora, San Miguel and Guadalupe counties, said in a phone interview that Griego’s relationship to the judges has no bearing on the case and that the investigation into Serna’s death is ongoing.

“Many factors come into play as to what charges will be filed,” Clayton said. “Sometimes it takes a period of time.”

Griego told the 911 operator he fired three shots at Serna but said he believed only one of the bullets had struck him, in the chest.

Coberly said initial information from the state Office of the Medical Investigator revealed Griego also suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Court records confirm the two men — who were neighbors in a small Mora County settlement called Ledoux — had been feuding for decades. Records also show the Aragons recently recused themselves from a lawsuit involving Griego.