On Sept. 28, a jury found Noah Phillip Duran guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Elijah Mirabal. The shooting occurred Oct. 20, 2020, at North Domingo Baca Park.
This was Duran’s second trial for the same charges after a mistrial was declared earlier this year due to a hung jury. Duran and codefendant Jaden Sandoval are accused of setting up a drug deal with Mirabal on Snapchat with the intent to rob him. According to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s website, after Mirabal produced a bag of cocaine, Duran and Sandoval brandished weapons and said they were robbing him.
Duran then shot Mirabal with a Blackout AR-style rifle with up to 10 gunshots, including one to the head. Duran’s attorney, Ryan Villa, said Duran fired in self-defense after Mirabal produced a pistol and shot Duran four times. Villa said the shooting was “simply a drug deal gone bad.” During the shootout, another individual, Zachary Henderson, was shot in the leg.
In the closing arguments, Deputy District Attorneys Guin Ice and John Duran said, “What we have is a spider to a fly. The evidence points to this being a drug rip-off, that’s what this is, that’s why the defendant shot Elijah.”
The jury found Duran guilty of first-degree murder, attempt to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, aggravated battery and shooting at or from a motor vehicle. According to the Bernalillo County DA’s website, Duran was 17 at the time of the shooting and could face up to 30 years in prison as a juvenile. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled. Sandoval also faces first-degree murder charges, but a trial has not been scheduled for that case.
“After re-evaluating this case, we decided to retry it based on the strength and evidence and the need for justice for Elijah Mirabal and his loved ones,” District Attorney Raùl Torrez is quoted as saying on the DA website. “As my team stated in closing arguments ‘this case is an exercise in reason and common sense.’ We hope this verdict is an example to our youth and community that drugs and guns are an obvious cocktail for unnecessary tragedy.”