Man admits to killing his wife

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A man who shot and killed his wife in their Meadow Lake home in May 2011 pleaded guilty on Friday to second-degree murder, which includes a firearm enhancement.

Brandon Casias, 21, entered into a plea and disposition agreement with the district attorney's office during a hearing in front of District Court Judge William Sanchez. By agreeing to pleading guilty to second-degree murder, the district attorney's office dismissed two counts of child abuse.

Sanchez accepted the plea agreement and ordered that a pre-sentence report be completed before he sentences Casias, who faces a maximum of 12 years in prison. Casias was scheduled to go on trial next week.

The two child abuse counts stem from the fact that the couple's two young sons were present at the time of the shooting.

According to a Valencia County Sheriff's report, Casias told investigators during an interview that he had just returned home "from drinking with his buddies" when he got into an argument with his wife, Amber, about his drinking.

He told detectives he drew his Glock handgun, which he carried 24/7 "for his self-defense and because he could," on his wife, knowing he had a live round of ammunition in the chamber.

During the interview, Casias said when he pointed the gun at his wife, she reached out to push the gun out of her face.

"Casias said he had his finger on the trigger and when he pulled the gun back, the weapon discharged and the bullet struck his spouse," the report said. "Casias said the bullet impacted in her (right) cheek and he observed blood come out of her mouth."

The Meadow Lake man told detectives that because he couldn't find his phone, he ran to his neighbor's house and told them to call 911 because he "(expletive) up." When he return home, he began giving his wife CPR, and said she began breathing again.

He also told police he had pointed the gun at his wife in the past, and that she thought nothing of it other than "telling him he was stupid."

Amber Casias died while being transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital, the report said.

The facts of the case were presented by Assistant District Attorney Bryan McKay, who told the judge if the case had gone to trial, the state would have proven that Casias killed his wife after a night of drinking with his friends.

During the hearing, Sanchez asked Casias if he understood and agreed with McKay's rendition of the facts of the case. While sobbing, and under his breath, Casias said, "It was an accident." After Sanchez asked Casias the question twice, the defendant finally answered, "Yes."

Casias' defense attorney Mark Rosenfield asked if the court could set aside two hours for the sentencing hearing, saying he plans to call several witnesses to testify on his client's behalf.

Sanchez said the hearing will be scheduled within four to six weeks.


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