Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Stab wounds don’t lie.
But the accounts of how three men came by their injuries one year ago varied wildly during the first week of testimony at Anthony Gallegos’ trial in district court.
The defendant, who stands accused of attempted second-degree murder, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and two counts of first-degree assault, now claims that he acted in self-defense when he stabbed Jeremy Montoya and Michael Sanchez.
Gallegos’ attorneys say the two men — along with Jeremy’s brother, Samuel — hunted their client across town before they attacked him in the 800 block of 10th Street on July 22, 2012.
While the question of gang affiliations came up earlier in the week, the alleged stabbings may be totally unrelated to that particular issue. According to court testimony, Samuel Montoya is in a relationship with the mother of Gallegos’ children.
Deputy Public Defender Christopher Light said that Gallegos and two women were driving around when someone threw a glass lid at Gallegos, striking him in the nose.
But police and prosecutors allege that Gallegos started the confrontation when he subsequently threw a 40-ounce beer bottle at Samuel Montoya’s car, shattering the rear windshield.
When Jeremy Montoya got out of the car to find out what was happening, Gallegos rushed toward him and stabbed him, Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy alleged. Gallegos then stabbed Sanchez as the second man came to his friend’s aid, Loy said.
The 21-year-old Gallegos initially told authorities that they wouldn’t find his fingerprints on the bottle, or on a folding pocket knife that was used to stab both men.
At the time, Gallegos said the two men “probably” stabbed themselves as they swung the knife in his direction, according to court testimony from Alamosa Police Officer Adam Jennings, Cpl. Ryan Spangler and Cpl. John Vasquez.
During that first round of questioning, Gallegos also couldn’t account for his own injuries, which included relatively superficial stab wounds to his left shoulder and back.
However, his story began to change as the evening wore on and the questioning continued, authorities testified.
According to Jennings, the first discrepancy came when Gallegos admitted that he picked the knife up some time after the altercation was over.
The suspect went on to completely overhaul his story, according to Jennings.
“Mr. Gallegos responded, ‘the knife wasn’t mine, but I stabbed him,’” he said July 23.
Jennings noted that those remarks were completely inconsistent with Gallegos’ initial statements.
“Prior, he told me he didn’t know anything about the stabbing,” Jennings said.
However, Gallegos wasn’t the only person whose credibility was potentially thrown into question.
Throughout the week, jurors heard conflicting testimony and statements from Sanchez and Jeremy Montoya.
When police first questioned Sanchez, he initially denied that he stabbed Gallegos.
But he, too, soon changed his story. Sanchez now claims that he stabbed Gallegos in self-defense.
Jeremy Montoya said he does not have a clear memory of what happened that day, and he gave authorities inconsistent statements about the details he could recall.
Even after he read through his official statement on the witness stand, Montoya said he could not recall what the three men inside the car were doing that day.
“We were … we … we … I don’t remember,” he said.
Loy gave his witness a second chance to read through the statement. But even then, Montoya hesitated when Loy repeated the question.
“I don’t remember,” he said.
Later that same day, though, Montoya testified that he and his brother, along with Sanchez, were driving down 10th Street when he noticed a car was following them.
However, he never mentioned that detail at any time before last week, despite the fact the district attorney’s chief investigator repeatedly asked him for any additional information he might have.
His recollections of the next event jibe with Sanchez’s: He said he remembers that a bottle shattered the rear windshield of his brother’s car.
Moments after he stepped out of the car to find out what was going on, Montoya said that Gallegos stabbed him repeatedly, inflicting wounds to his heart, lungs and back.
Montoya testified on Wednesday that he was stabbed numerous times.
However, medical records show that Montoya suffered a single — yet life-threatening — stab wound to his heart. The attending physician also testified that Montoya was treated for a single stab wound.
Montoya threw the prosecution for one final loop when he testified several times under oath that he did not see Gallegos in the courtroom. (Gallegos was sitting within plain view of the witness stand.)
Montoya said he understood that he was under oath.