ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico man accused in the death of his ex-girlfriend could soon walk free after striking a deal with the state. To avoid jail time, Arthur Lovato has to lead investigators to the woman’s remains.
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Tuesday in court, the state even admitted the family of the victim isn’t happy with this agreement but says it’s necessary in the event the case goes to trial. “We believe this is an appropriate resolution due to the lack of forensic evidence, judge,” Attorney Robyn Simms explained.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Lovato pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the 2018 killing of Rita Jaramillo. After the 49-year-old woman disappeared, her Los Lunas home was found torched but she was never found.
The crime carries a possible six-year sentence but the state struck that deal that could set Lovato free if they find the remains and identify them as Jaramillo’s.
Prosecutors also said they need to find the body because of an issue with some of the evidence they do have. The defense was challenging items collected from Lovato’s property because New Mexico State Police reportedly entered without a warrant.
“There’s an outstanding motion to suppress evidence that was collected from the defendant’s property that corroborated some of the statements made by the state’s eye witness,” Simms stated.
Following the plea hearing, KRQE News 13 followed the caravan of NMSP vehicles, in which Lovato agreed to guide investigators to Jaramillo’s remains. That led to a road just off I-25, south of Veguita.
At last check, NMSP says the search is ongoing.
The state says if the remains are found, it could take months to identify them. If the remains do belong to Jaramillo, Lovato will be sentenced at a later time. If investigators don’t find or ID the remains, the case will go to trial.