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20-year-old accused of October sword slaying ruled competent to stand trial

News Agencies



Jan. 25—A state district judge has ruled Kiara McCulley, accused of killing 21-year-old Grace Jennings in October, is competent to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge and other counts after receiving treatment at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas.

McCulley, 20, is alleged to have stabbed Jennings with a 3-foot sword the morning of Oct. 30 after Jennings spent the night with McCulley and her boyfriend, 26-year-old Isaac Apodaca, in a garage where the couple lived.

Police found both Jennings’ body and what appeared to be a bloody sword inside the detached garage on Jaguar Drive, according to a criminal complaint.

Apodaca, who was found competent earlier this month to stand trial, is accused of conspiring with McCulley and convincing her to carry out the killing.


Online court records show a virtual status hearing on McCulley’s case was held Friday in the First Judicial District Court, where Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer received a Dec. 21 evaluation declaring McCulley competent.

Sommer’s ruling on McCulley’s competence was filed in court Monday.

McCulley was found incompetent Nov. 9 and ordered by a judge to undergo treatment at the Behavioral Health Institute.


Along with first-degree murder, she is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and tampering with evidence and is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing Feb. 1.

Apodaca is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. His virtual arraignment is scheduled Jan. 30, according to online court records.

McCulley’s defense attorneys, Tom Clark and Sam Ruyle, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.


During a recorded interview after her arrest, McCulley told Santa Fe police Detective Javier Vigil she suffers from undiagnosed dissociative identity disorder and claimed five different personalities control her actions as if they are playing a video game. She identified the version of herself speaking with Vigil as “Frogggie.”

“Frogggie is in charge most of the time. … Imagine you’re in a house, and there’s this big TV with [a video game console] and there’s a whole group of people who are wandering throughout the house and all wanting to play the game,” McCulley said.


She also said there are times when some of her personalities do not allow her to access certain memories and expressed confusion about Jennings’ death.

Both McCulley and Apodaca told Vigil they had been in a romantic relationship with Jennings in the past.

McCulley told the detective she hoped Jennings was dead and alleged Jennings had collected money during a 2016 incident in which she was raped by multiple men.


“[Jennings] was the first person I ever loved, and the first person to completely destroy me,” she said.

Police Capt. Aaron Ortiz said a sexual assault involving McCulley was reported to his department in 2020 “but not with the details she claimed during her interview.”

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