State Police issue report on Mountainair fatality

The site of the Sept. 21 crash. Photo by Thomas Campbell.

A crash that took the life of bicyclist Billy Weinman and gravely injured his friend Karl Baumgartner is the subject of a report compiled by State Police, which took over investigation of the Sept. 21 incident from the Torrance County Sheriff’s department.

The vehicle that struck the two men was driven by Shannon Murdock, a judge in the Seventh Judicial District.

The unredacted report has been forwarded to San Juan County district attorney Brent Capshaw for review to determine whether Murdock will face charges. Capshaw said he is reviewing the report outside of the Seventh Judicial District to avoid any appearance of impropriety. “I wouldn’t know judge Murdock if I ran into her at Walmart,” he said.

Capshaw said the next step is that his office will send a letter to the Seventh Judicial District Court with his recommendation on whether or not to file charges against Murdock.

Asked how long that might take, Capshaw replied, “probably not more than a couple weeks.”

The report includes witness descriptions of the crash given to law enforcement officers, and descriptions of forensic analysis of the scene.

Baumgartner’s injuries included cracked vertebrae in his neck and lower back, broken ribs and lacerations to his left calf, according to the report.

The two men were bicycling on U.S. 60 outside of Mountainair, where they both lived; they cycled together frequently.

The report includes interviews with witnesses and forensic work by law enforcement at the scene, including photographs and analysis of factors such as speed.

Initial responders included Torrance County Sheriff’s deputies; those police reports were not included.

Torrance County deputy Kent Ballard had obtained a search warrant for Murdock’s cell phone. “No evidence of phone calls, texting, social media or internet use near the time of the crash was found,” the State Police report says.

Ballard contacted Murdock’s attorney Marna Trammell, who replied that “Murdock had given a statement at the scene and had nothing more to add at this time,” according to the report.

Murdock’s statement was not included in the report directly.

“Shannon Murdock had been given Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) at the crash scene by [Torrance County] Deputy Woodward with [Torrance County] Sheriff Rivera observing. No signs of impairment were seen,” the report says.

The report does not mention a breath test for alcohol being administered at the time of the crash. Rivera told The Independent a blood alcohol test was not administered at the scene.

According to the report, Murdock was following two other vehicles on U.S. 60 when the crash occurred.

One witness said the three vehicles were going about 45 miles an hour, and the first two in line moved into the other lane to drive around the cyclists, according to the report; this witness also said he had noticed no erratic driving behavior in the black SUV driven by Murdock.

The report mentions a statement typed by another witness to the crash, who told investigators that, “As she was passing [Murdock’s] black SUV, the black SUV swerved into her lane. She passed the black SUV and continued watching it in her mirror. The black SUV swerved out of its lane several times on I-25 after she passed it by Lemitar.”

According to the report, there were no skid marks observed on the roadway at the scene of the crash.

The report also says that State Police reviewed “lapel video and car video” from Torrance County deputies Erwin Young and Woodard, along with 911 calls about the incident.

“Murdock is heard saying to Deputy Young that she saw the bicyclists and couldn’t move over, she did not know what happened. Deputy Woodard later read Murdock her Miranda rights and Murdock declined to make any further statements,” the report says.