Originally charged with second-degree murder, Orlin Nutumya changed his plea Monday to a lesser manslaughter count.
Nutumya, 26, of Camp Verde, was in Judge Howard Hinson’s Superior courtroom and described the events that led to the April 2002 death of Delano Quiroz.
He told Hinson that he didn’t know Quiroz, 40, of Clarkdale, before the night of his death. Quiroz came out of nowhere and approached him and Michelle White, who were sitting near the Railroad Bridge in Clarkdale.
“We didn’t know where he came from,” Nutumya said. “I had to defend myself.”
He said there was an altercation between the two of them and that Quiroz stabbed him twice. Hinson asked if Quiroz was still alive after the fight. Nutumya replied that he was. Nutumya said that he and White followed Quiroz and that he stabbed Quiroz in the back and crushed his skull with a rock.
Hikers in the Clarkdale area discovered Quiroz’s body about two months after his death. Clarkdale police soon began their investigation and arrested Shelby Beecher and Jose Ramos-Gonzalez on first-degree murder based on information she provided. Those charges were later dropped and White and Nutumya were charged with second-degree murder.
White pleaded to aggravated assault last month and received a 1.5-year sentence with credit for 228 days already served.
Clarkdale Police Chief Pat Haynie said this has been a difficult case since the start. The evidence was old when they got it and leads were scarce at first.
“I think we put in a horrendous amount of hours in that case,” Haynie said.
He said that he didn’t feel comfortable with the case when Beecher and Gonzalez were in jail. Once White started talking to officers, he said, things started to make sense.
“Her story does fit the crime scene,” Haynie said.
When asked if he believes it was self-defense, Haynie said that it could have very well started off that way.
“But there was a point where it went beyond that,” he said.
Nutumya’s manslaughter count is a class two felony and is a mandatory prison offense. Nutumya stands to get three to 12.5 years in prison when he’s sentenced Sept. 2 at 3 p.m.