AG Balderas Announces Gallup Vehicular Homicide Will Proceed to Trial

For Immediate Release:
December 5, 2019
Contact: Matt Baca — (505) 270-7148

GALLUP, NM—Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that Gallup
Magistrate Court Judge Virginia A Yazzie found probable cause to believe Mathew
Vargas committed a second degree felony resulting in death on October 14, 2017 for a
head-on vehicular homicide on State Road 118 near Gallup. Evidence was presented
that Vargas suddenly veered across the center line into oncoming traffic when he struck
and killed a motorist, Ernest Baker, in the other lane. Vargas’ car contained a half empty
bottle of Goldschlager Whiskey and three Xanax pills were found in the defendant’s pants
pockets. A blood test confirmed Vargas had excessive amounts of Xanax in his system
at the time of the collision.
“Protecting New Mexicans from reckless drivers who consume controlled substances
before hitting the road is a top priority for my office,” said Attorney General Balderas. “I
look forward to pursuing justice on behalf of the victim’s family.”
Vargas’ case will next be bound over to Eleventh Judicial District Court for trial on the
charges. A District Court Judge will be assigned the case. This charge is merely an
allegation, the defendant is presumed innocent until conviction. Vargas faces 15 years in
prison if convicted. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Ashley
Schweizer and Bryan McKay.

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