Doña Ana County



At approximately 8 p.m. Sunday, April 2, Doña Ana County Detention Center staff responded to a disturbance involving two inmates in the facility’s Delta Dayroom 4.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department was called in immediately when detention staff discovered one inmate unconscious on the floor of the shower area adjacent to the dayroom. Another inmate was alone in the dayroom with significant amounts of blood on his clothing. Other inmates were in their cells. The entire facility went to immediate lockdown.

Inmate Dominic Martin Montoya, 29, of Las Cruces is now a suspect in the death of inmate Adam Eugene Avalos, 29, also of Las Cruces. Mr. Avalos was pronounced dead within the facility. His family has been notified.

Mr. Montoya was treated for minor injuries and is being held in protective custody within the facility. He will likely face further charges, but that decision will ultimately be made by the Office of the Third Judicial District Attorney.

Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison has assigned eight investigators to the case. Interviews are underway of detention staff and of the 13 other inmates whose cells adjoin Delta Dayroom 4. At this time, no motive for the crime has been established, and every indication is that it was a normal day in the Delta unit up until the incident occurred. Investigators have no reason to believe at this time that anyone other than Mr. Montoya and Mr. Avalos were involved in this incident. Investigators are processing a large amount of physical evidence from the shower area of the dayroom.

No other inmates in the facility were injured during this incident.

Mr. Avalos’ body has been taken to Albuquerque for autopsy by the New Mexico Medical Investigator’s Office. Autopsy results will assist investigators in determining the exact cause and time of death. Mr. Avalos suffered extreme trauma, and investigators believe a weapon was involved in the incident. Pending further investigation, no further details will be released at this time.

Mr. Montoya has been an inmate in the facility since July of 2005, facing three charges of strong-armed robbery, as well as probation and parole violations. Mr. Avalos had been in the facility since last month, facing allegations of probation violations. According to booking records, Mr. Montoya is 6’2” tall and weighs approximately 290 pounds, while Mr. Avalos was 6’ tall and weighed approximately 175 pounds.

The facility remains on lockdown status, although regular visitation and phone calls are being allowed. The lockdown status will be lifted in phases as the situation stabilizes. In the meantime, the Detention Center chaplain is counseling inmates. Additional counseling is being arranged for staff and inmates.

Doña Ana County Undersheriff Chuck Franco and Detention Center Administrator Chris Barela wish to publicly commend the Doña Ana County Detention Center staff for their response and reaction to this incident. From the moment the incident was reported, detention staff responded quickly and appropriately to secure the safety of all inmates, to preserve the crime scene and to isolate potential witnesses for questioning.

By agreement of the Doña Ana County Detention Center, the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department and the Doña Ana County Manager’s Office, all media requests for information pertaining to this incident will be processed through the Doña Ana County Public Information Office until further notice.