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Bond denied for ‘dangerous’ Las Cruces man accused of park beheading, using head as soccer ball

UPDATE, July 6: Joel Arciniega-Saenz, a homeless person who Las Cruces police say admitted to killing a man by cutting off his head and using it as a soccer ball, was denied bond Tuesday during a detention hearing in court.

In denying bond, a judge found Arciniega-Saenz to be dangerous to the community if released.

Under the judge's order, Arciniega-Saenz will remain in jail until he stands trial on the first-degree murder charge he faces in the death of 51-year-old James Garcia in Apodaca Park last month.

Police have said that Arciniega-Saenz confessed to the crime, and investigators said they also recovered a bloody knife that was used in the attack.

UPDATE, June 23: Joel Arciniega-Saenz, a homeless person who Las Cruces police say admitted to killing a man by cutting off his head and using it as a soccer ball, was ordered held without bond Thursday pending a pre-trial detention hearing now set for next month.

Arciniega-Saenz will return to court again on June 29 on the first-degree murder charge he faces in the death of 51-year-old James Garcia in Apodaca Park. Police have said in addition to Arciniega-Saenz' confession, they recovered a bloody knife used in the attack.

UPDATE #3: Court documents obtained by ABC-7 lay out gruesome details in a murder at a Las Cruces park.

Investigators say 25-year-old Joel Arciniega-Saenz confessed to using a knife to decapitate 51-year-old James Garcia, and that Arciniega-Saenz then kicked the victim's head like a soccer ball.

On Sunday night, Las Cruces police were called after the victim's body was found next to Apodaca Park. Arciniega-Saenz was also found at the park covered in blood and officers say there was bloody knife stuck in the ground near him. He is charged with first degree murder.

Arciniega-Saenz claimed Garcia had raped his wife four years ago and at some point also stole his belongings, and court documents stated Arciniega-Saenz also stabbed the victim multiple times and cut off his finger.

ABC-7 also learned Arciniega-Saenz was accused of shooting and killing a man at a Las Cruces motel in 2017, but those charges were dismissed. He was also accused of vandalizing two businesses in April.

UPDATE #2: Las Cruces police late Monday afternoon identified the Apodaca Park murder victim as 51-year-old James Garcia and said "multiple sharp force injuries" from a stabbing attack led to his death.

Garcia's body was discovered in the roadway on Madrid Avenue on the north side of the park late Sunday night.

Investigators also disclosed that murder suspect Joel Arciniega-Saenz was arrested after officers spotted him in the park with "significant blood stains" on his clothes and saw "a bloody knife stuck in the ground near where he was seated."

UPDATE: The suspect arrested by Las Cruces police for a homicide discovered in Apodaca Park has been identified as 25-year-old Joel Arciniega-Saenz.

Dona Ana County jail booking records on Monday morning show Arciniega-Saenz was being held without bond on a charge of first-degree murder.

ORIGINAL REPORT: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- The Las Cruces Police Department was investigating a homicide after officers discovered the body of a man in Apodaca Park, authorities said Monday.

The department said officers were called out to the park late Sunday night to reports of "suspicious circumstances." When officers arrived, they discovered the body of a man. Police said the man died of "apparent foul play", but did not specify how the man died.

Police arrested a suspect nearby, and said there was no ongoing danger to the community.

Police did not provide any further information on the victim or the suspect.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

Mauricio Casillas

El Paso native Mauricio Casillas co-anchors ABC-7’s Good Morning El Paso.

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Wil Herren

Wil Herren is an ABC-7 reporter who covers both news and sports.

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