Rick Stallings will go to trial Sept. 18 for allegedly killing longtime Durango resident Karen Cugnini after a mental evaluation determined he is competent to stand trial.
In November, Stallings, 50, of Farmington, argued he wasn’t competent to stand trial, prompting District Court Judge Karen Townsend to postpone court proceedings until a mental evaluation could be conducted.
According to Dustin O’Brien, chief deputy for the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in New Mexico, Stallings underwent a one-day evaluation with a psychologist, who found Stallings was competent to stand trial.
O’Brien said that Stallings, too, agreed that he would be competent to stand trial. A judge on Tuesday stipulated the finding, sending the case back to the court.
“Now it moves forward like any other case,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien added that Stallings – who previously tried to fire his court-ordered attorney and represent himself – will continue to be represented by public defender Thomas Clark. “But that could change,” he added.
Stallings is accused of breaking into Cugnini’s Flora Vista, New Mexico, home in October 2015 with the intent of stealing her property. Authorities believe Cugnini, 69, came home during the burglary and was shot by Stallings.
Two days after the incident, Stallings was found at a residence in Farmington and refused to come out, inciting a standoff that required the San Juan County, New Mexico, Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and Farmington Police to surround the home.
O’Brien said Stallings will stand trial Aug. 2 and 3 for two separate but related incidents, wherein he allegedly stole Cugnini’s vehicle and was caught with a shank he made out of a pair of glasses while in jail.