LOS LUNAS — The driver of an off-road vehicle who allegedly hit and killed a man last week in the village of Los Lunas has been arrested and charged.
Derek Dominguez, 26, of Los Lunas, was arrested on Thursday, Dec. 15, in the death of Adan Trejo, 28, also of Los Lunas.
Dominguez is charged with two third-degree felonies — voluntary manslaughter, and knowingly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily harm or death — and tampering with evidence, a fourth-degree felony. If convicted, he could face up to 10 1/2 years in prison.
Trejo’s body was found on the ditchbank on Los Lentes Road near Lopez Road on Monday, Dec. 12.
When Los Lunas police officers arrived, according to the criminal complaint, they found blunt force trauma injuries to the back of Trejo’s head.
Following an autopsy, the Office of the Medical Investigator told investigators the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, and additional trauma was found on the back of Trejo’s legs, indicating he was either hit or run over by a vehicle.
At the scene on the ditchbank, LLPD investigators found fresh tire impressions on the ditchbank and skid marks on Los Lentes Road.
“During (the) preliminary crash investigation, it appears a UTV or ATV (possibly a side-by-side) struck the victim as he was walking south on the ditchbank near Lopez Road,” the complaint reads.
Skid marks and tire impressions indicate the driver of the off-road vehicle fled south on Los Lentes, according to the complaint.
On Thursday, Dec. 15, Dominguez’s attorney, Amavalise Jaramillo, contacted LLPD Detective Nicki DeAnda, asking to speak with her, telling the detective his client thought he struck an animal.
During the interview, Dominguez said he saw the video footage released by LLPD the day before showing the off-road vehicle going south on Los Lentes, and learned a pedestrian had been killed on the ditchbank. He identified his UTV, a 2022 Can-Am, in the video traveling in the area at the time of the crash.
“Mr. Dominguez further stated he thought he struck a brown or black dog,” the criminal complaint reads.
Dominguez told officers he left the scene immediately and didn’t return to see what he’d hit. Officers found the Can-Am on a flatbed trailer in Dominguez’s backyard later that same day.
According to the complaint, DeAnda saw shattered glass in the vehicle and on the trailer, as well as damage to the driver’s (side) front bumper and driver’s rearview mirror. The detective also noted there were pieces of the front bumper of the vehicle missing, which were found at the scene of the crash.
When the vehicle was found, the LED whip lights seen in the surveillance video had been removed and put inside the Can-Am.
Dominguez was arrested and booked into the Valencia County Detention Center.
He made his first court appearance on Tuesday, Dec. 20, before Los Lunas Magistrate Jamie Goldberg via video conference from the jail.
Goldberg released Dominguez to pretrial services, which could place restrictions on Dominguez, such as regular drug testing or a GPS ankle monitor.
The judge required Dominguez to talk to his lawyer at least once a week and ordered him to stay away from the scene of the crash on Los Lentes.
Valencia County cases
The Valencia County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigations into two unrelated fatal hit-and-run crashes, which happened earlier this month.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, Earl Arellano, 54, of Casa Colorada, was hit and killed by a vehicle near the 100 block of Rio Communities Blvd.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, Martin Ortiz-Trujillo, 58, of Los Lunas, was hit and killed by a vehicle on Van Camp Blvd. near Reino Road in Monterey Park, on the east side of Valencia County.
Investigators are working to identify the drivers of the vehicles involved in the crashes, said VCSO spokesman Detective Rashad Pearson.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.