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Homeless man faces new charges after release from jail

July 28, 2018

A young homeless man who was accused of violent crimes in two separate cases last fall — including the beating of a Santa Fe man who later would become the city’s second homicide victim of 2018 — saw those charges dismissed and was recently was released from jail.

But Mathew Culley, 20, is now facing new counts in one of the incidents.

A Santa Fe County grand jury indicted Culley on one count of aggravated battery and two counts of tampering with evidence in an October incident in which an employee of the downtown Five & Dime General Store was stabbed in the back.

Culley’s address on the indictment, filed Thursday in the state District Court in Santa Fe, is listed as a local homeless shelter.

According to a criminal complaint in the Five & Dime case, Culley was suspected of shoplifting from the store and then fleeing. An employee followed him to a nearby skate park to confront him, the complaint says, and Culley allegedly stabbed the man twice in the back.

After being released from jail on bond, Culley was accused in November of beating and robbing 58-year-old Michael Willms, who was stabbed to death months later.

Willms, found dead in his midtown apartment in late June, had told police at the time of the November attack that he and Culley previously had been in a romantic relationship. Culley and some friends came to his apartment, beat him severely and robbed him, he said.

Culley was being held in the Santa Fe County jail at the time of Willms’ death, facing charges in the beating and robbery.

After Willms died, however, the District Attorney’s Office dropped those charges, saying the state couldn’t pursue them without Willms’ testimony.

Charges in the shoplifting and stabbing incident also were dismissed because the District Attorney’s Office had failed to prosecute, according to court documents.

Culley was released from jail in late June, just days after Willms’ death was discovered.

But the grand jury indictment in the Five & Dime assault means the District Attorney’s Office is reviving the charges against Culley in that case.

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