SHOW LOW — Accused Joe Tank Road murderer Louis Martin Villa 52, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter, “A dangerous nature Class 2 Felony,” according to the August 31 plea agreement filed with the Navajo County Superior Court.
He admitted to causing the death of Tyler Alexandre, 31, at a camping spot near Joe Tank Road on March 23, about one mile from State Route (SR) 260.
Villa was accused of assaulting and killing Alexandre with a knife during a camping trip. The Navajo County Attorney’s Office originally charged him with the first-degree murder, a Class 1 felony, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a Class 3 felony, also against Alexandre.
Court records say that Villa allegedly called 9-1-1 emergency at 4:45 a.m. on March 23 and told the regional dispatcher in Show Low that “he had killed someone who just tried to kill me.”
Show Low police officers and Navajo County sheriff’s deputies responded to the caller’s location. Once there, they reported that an “unidentified male was found deceased at the scene outside of a truck,” the report stated. The victim had “severe knife wounds in the area of his neck and possibly spanning across his neck,” deputies stated. They noted that a dog was loose in the area.
The report says that Villa, who had been drinking, had blood on his clothes and on his hands, and told officers that he “had (expletive) killed him” because Alexandre had tried to steal Villa’s truck. Then the officers, referring to the body lying on the ground next to a truck, asked Villa, “Who’s your buddy?” Villa replied, “Not my buddy.” Deputies discovered a knife on the dashboard of the truck.
They arrested Villa, about five hours after they showed up. He has been in the Navajo County Jail ever since, originally on a “no bond” hold.
Villa listed his address as one in Show Low on Riffle Drive. He is reported to have no prior felony convictions, stands 5’-1” and listed his occupation as self-employed. Alexandre is believed to have lived in White Mountain Lake. It is unknown if the two men knew each other, or how.
Both charges were designated by the prosecutor as “dangerous” crimes. That may seem obvious, but the technical designation of a crime as “dangerous” is significant, because if proved, it triggers enhanced penalties, and not only that, mandatory sentencing provisions kick in under Arizona law.
The “modified” charge that Villa pleaded to carries the “dangerous” designation as well, and the range of sentence for such an offense in Arizona is a presumptive sentence of 10.5 years in prison and 21 years on the high end.
In Villa’s case, the parties agreed to a range of sentence of the years that Villa will spend in prison, from 10 to 15 years.
The case has been assigned to Judge Dale P. Nielson. Prosecutor Joel H. Ruechel represents the state; Dirk O. LeGate is Villa’s court appointed lawyer. The remaining aggravated assault charge is expected to be dismissed. Villa’s sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 7.