Attorney General Balderas Announces Prison Sentence for Gallup Man Convicted of Vehicular Homicide

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2021
Contact: Jerri Mares (505) 321-4372

ALBUQUERQUE, NM— Attorney General Balderas announced today that Mathew
Vargas was sentenced by McKinley County Judge Robert Aragon to 7.5 years in the
Department of Corrections. Vargas was convicted following a jury trial in April 2021 for
vehicular homicide. This was the fourth sentencing hearing for Vargas, with the most
recent being rescheduled because Vargas collapsed in the courtroom. He later tested
positive for alcohol and registered a BAC of .29.
On October 14, 2017, just outside of Gallup, Vargas drove while under the influence of
Xanax head-on into a truck driven by 59-year-old Ernest Baker. Vargas was also in
possession of Xanax pills that he did not have a prescription for at the time of the crash.
Baker’s family spoke during the sentencing, describing the victim as a pillar of the
“Too many family members and loved ones are unnecessarily impacted by impaired
drivers in New Mexico,” said Attorney General Balderas. “This sentencing should serve
as a deterrent to all those who believe they can drive under the influence without
The Attorney General’s Office was appointed special prosecutor in this case by the
Eleventh Judicial District Attorney. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys
General Brett Barnes and Bryan McKay, and investigated by the Gallup Police
Department with assistance from the New Mexico State Police Crash Reconstruction