A pre-trial conference date has been set for a Farmington man accused of murdering Karen Cugnini, a Durango native who was living in Flora Vista, in October.
Rick Stallings, 50, will appear in Aztec Magistrate Court before Judge John A. Dean on March 21. There, if Stallings changes his not guilty plea, a plea agreement could be reached. Otherwise, Dean will schedule a jury trial.
Stallings was arrested on Oct. 6 on multiple charges related to the shooting death of Cugnini, 69, who was found dead in her Flora Vista home from a single gunshot wound on Oct. 1.
Investigators found a .22 caliber shell, as well as numerous items stolen from Cugnini’s home, including a Ford pickup, which was later tied to Stallings. When police tracked the Farmington man down, a standoff occurred, which required the use of a SWAT team and flash grenades.
At an arraignment in October, The Daily Times of Farmington reported friends and associates of Stallings said he admitted to killing Cugnini, and had several items of the 69-year old woman in his possession, including a ring, necklace, bracelet and credit card.
Stallings was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary (armed with a deadly weapon), larceny over $20,000, tampering with evidence, larceny of a firearm, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, possession of a firearm by a felon, disposing of stolen property (firearm), identity theft and three counts of theft of credit cards.
Cugnini has long ties in the Durango area, with the family known as an old-time cattle ranching family. She graduated Durango High School in 1964, and went on to own a business in Silverton for several years. The Daily Times reported Cugnini moved to Flora Vista in 2008, to care for her disabled granddaughter.