Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Who started the dispute that led to the arrest and prosecution of an Alamosa man for attempted second-degree murder and other crimes?
Jurors heard conflicting answers to that question throughout the first two days of testimony at Anthony Gallegos’ trial.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy alleged that Gallegos set the events of July 22, 2012 in motion when the 21-year-old defendant threw a 40-ounce bottle at a car that three men were riding in.
When driver Jeremy Montoya instinctively stepped out of the vehicle to find out what was happening, Gallegos rushed him and deliberately stabbed him in the heart with a folding pocket knife, Loy said.
“He intended to murder Jeremy Montoya,” Loy said during his July 23 opening statements to jurors.
Montoya’s friend, Jeremy Sanchez, came to Montoya’s aid, and as he did, Gallegos stabbed him, too:
“He did it on purpose; he did it without any regard for their life, except to end it,” Loy said.
Deputy Public Defender Christopher Light countered that the Alamosa Police Department’s investigation into the incident was incompetent and incomplete.
The lead investigator drew big assumptions about what happened at the scene in the 800 block of 10th Street, while choosing to ignore where the knife came from, he said.
Light told jurors that the three men inside the car — including Montoya’s brother, Samuel — chased and hunted Gallegos down before they attacked him.
Gallegos knew he was under attack when someone threw a glass lid at him, striking his nose, Light said.
According to Light, Gallegos threw the 40-ounce bottle at Samuel Montoya’s car only when his three pursuers closed in on him.
Sanchez testified on July 23 that he was sitting in the back of the car when he saw Gallegos prepare to throw the bottle.
His first instinct was to duck down, but when nothing happened, Sanchez said he sat up and looked out through a car window. At that moment, he said, Gallegos threw the bottle at the car, shattering the rear windshield.
According to Sanchez, Jeremy Montoya stopped the car and got out to see why Gallegos threw the bottle.
As Jeremy Montoya stepped out of the vehicle, Gallegos pulled something out of a pocket, Sanchez said. Gallegos then charged toward Montoya and stabbed him, according to Sanchez.
At that point, Sanchez said he rushed over to help his friend.
“I went over there to get the knife out of Anthony’s hands,” he said. “He ended up stabbing me and I ended up falling to the (ground),” he said.
While Sanchez was splayed out on the ground, Gallegos got on top of him and stabbed him three more times, he said.
They began to struggle for control of the knife, and when Sanchez grabbed hold of it, he said he stabbed Gallegos in self-defense.
“Nobody had like pulled him off so I ended up protecting myself,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he could have inflicted more serious injuries on Gallegos, but instead swung the knife toward Gallegos’ back and shoulder.
“I was just trying to have him get off me,” Sanchez said. “I wasn’t trying to kill him or nothing. I was just trying to prevent something from starting.”
Nor did he chase after Gallegos when he had the chance, he said.
“I didn’t want no confrontation with him,” he said.
Instead, both injured men got back into Samuel Montoya’s car and rushed off to San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center.
Within a matter of minutes after Jeremy Montoya arrived, his pulse was no longer palpable, and he could not breathe on his own, according to Dr. Anneliese Keller.
Emergency room personnel cut his chest open and discovered that Montoya sustained a life-threatening stab wound to the left chamber of his heart.
The attending physician speculated that Montoya would have died if he’d arrived at the facility just five minutes later.
Although they managed to stabilize him, his injuries were so severe that he was quickly flown to a Denver-area hospital for additional medical care.
While Sanchez’s injuries were less serious, Keller said they were potentially life threatening. She was especially concerned when she detected blood inside one of his lungs.
At some point after the incident, Gallegos arrived at a friend’s house. The friend proceeded to clean Gallegos’ injuries, and when he was done, Gallegos left the house on foot, the friend testified.
Gallegos was subsequently treated at San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center for “fairly superficial” flesh wounds to his left shoulder and lower back area, according to Dr. Clifford Robins.
Based on his observation of Gallegos, the attending physician declined to sign off on a severe bodily injury report.
“He did not meet any of the requirements … because his injuries were not consistent with any of the required reporting,” Robins testified.
Gallegos’ trial is expected to continue into next week.
In addition to the main charge of attempted second-degree murder, he stands accused of disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and two counts of first-degree assault.
He is presumed to be innocent unless jurors decide that the prosecution has proved its case against him beyond a reasonable doubt.