The boyfriend of a woman accused of shooting her husband after arguments over relationships outside their marriage was arrested as police said they believe he was at the scene of the crime during a final confrontation when the victim was killed.
James Sena, 34, was arrested Monday evening and charged with conspiracy to commit a first-degree felony in the July 4 shooting death of Joel Valdez, 39, police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said in a news release. It comes after the arrest of the victim’s wife, Erica Valdez, 39, on Friday, officials said.
Erica Valdez and Sena had been dating, and were soon identified as suspects in the fatal shooting.
Authorities said the married couple’s arguing over the last few months came to a head on Independence Day when Joel Valdez confronted Erica Valdez and Sena at a Motel 6, where Sena worked as a security guard.
Sena allegedly pointed a gun at Joel Valdez. As the two yelled at each other, Erica Valdez appeared at the front door, pushed Sena out of her way, and screamed for her husband and a woman to leave or she would shoot them with what she said was an automatic handgun, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The other woman saw what she believed to be a black handgun with an extended “clip” in Erica Valdez’s hand pointing at her and Joel Valdez before he and the woman left. As Joel Valdez and the woman drove away, the woman heard what she believed to be four to five shots.
“She did not know if it was at them or in the air,” the affidavit said.
Later that night, Erica Valdez allegedly went to the home she shared with Joel Valdez and pointed a gun at his chest. As she left the home, automatic gunfire could be heard, and drywall started to fly off the walls, according to the affidavit.
A relative reported Erica Valdez called and said, “I just sprayed the house.”
Police said they received a 911 call from the home at 9:41 p.m. when the 911 call-taker heard a female screaming that her husband brought a “mistress” to the residence and screamed, “I am going to shoot you and hit you with this gun” and “You better get that female out of the house before I shoot her.”
Erica Valdez allegedly returned to the area near the home two hours later with another man, believed to be Sena, when Joel Valdez was shot and killed during a final confrontation, officials said.
“Additional surveillance showed the same car return to the area shortly after 11 p.m., and another verbal altercation can be seen. As the car left, another volley of automatic gunfire could be heard,” police said.
Police said they tried to make contact at the home but did not find anyone.
The victim’s 16-year-old daughter reportedly saw her mother driving off and found her dad’s body lying in the road, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The affidavit said that casings matching the same caliber were found in the road directly in front of the residence, and what appeared to be bullet impacts to the front of the home were found.
Further investigation revealed that two possible 10 mm caliber firearms had been used within five to six minutes from the shooting at the house to where Joel Valdez was found dead. Authorities began to see if Sena may have had any possible connection to his death, the affidavit said.
The affidavit said the married couple had been fighting for the past few months, with Erica Valdez allegedly antagonizing her husband by calling him “B—-,” and belittling him.
“As this confrontation continued, Erica started to have relationships with other males, thus increasing the tension in the home,” the affidavit said.
At first, the husband did not know about her actions until his daughter told him about four to five days earlier, the document said.
“Upon hearing of Erica’s other relationships, Joel became verbally angry and began to scream,” the document said. “After that day, Joel began to have relationships outside the marriage,” in what the daughter thought to be revenge for what Ercia had started, the affidavit said.
The Journal reported the shooting came after months of domestic strife, including Erica Valdez being charged in April with 911 abuse after allegedly calling police 27 times to report domestic violence.
Sena and Erica Valdez are also suspects in a separate shooting at a house on July 3, police said. The details about that incident remain scarce.
Sena’s attorney declined to comment, saying he had recently been retained on the case. An attorney for Erica Valdez did not immediately return a Law&Crime request for comment.
Fidencio Duran, Joel Valdez’s brother, told the Journal he would miss his brother, a father of three and a tattoo artist who loved to ride motorcycles.
“He had his downfalls like everyone does, but he was a good father,” Duran said, the paper reported.
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