Updated: October 09, 2020 10:13 PM
Created: October 09, 2020 06:49 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A former New Mexico State University fraternity member who shot another student during a hazing ritual last year was sentenced in a virtual court hearing Friday.
Miguel Altamirano, 22, pleaded ‘no contest’ to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and negligent use of a deadly weapon while intoxicated.
“It’s troubling… and it goes beyond proper gun safety. It can be deadly and fortunately that’s not the case,” said Judge Steven Blankinship before handing down an 18-month suspended sentence.
“Suspension of a sentence is an act of leniency of the court and he's not going to prison in this case,” said Judge Blankinship.
HAZING WITH A GUN
In November 2019, Altamirano shot Jonathan Sillas in the leg at a campground in Cloudcroft during a hazing ritual for the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
“I expected a little bit of hazing. I didn’t think they were going to hurt us,” said Sillas two months after he was hospitalized.
“I did not expect a gun to be there,” said Sillas.
Evidence photos obtained by KOB 4 Investigates show the aftermath. A campground nearly 100 miles away from NMSU’s campus was littered with empty beer cans, traces of blood and a handgun.
During an interrogation with investigators, Altamirano said he didn’t know the gun was loaded when he pulled the trigger.
Investigator: Was this somewhat like a hazing deal? Is that what that was?
Altamirano: Yeah, I mean that’s the only way to put it. I mean, it’s the only way – it was just meant to scare him, not harm him.
An internal investigation by NMSU found even more shocking behavior involving Kappa Sigma – including tackling pledges, underage drinking and putting a gun to students’ heads as an act of loyalty.
“I’m pretty sure just about everyone else got the gun put on them,” said Sillas.
As a result, NMSU revoked Kappa Sigma’s charter, Altamirano was expelled and now nearly a year later, a judge gave him an 18-month suspended sentence.
Before his sentencing, Altamirano apologized to the victim:
“I know words can’t make up for what I did but I hope that one day he’ll be able to forgive me,” said Altamirano, adding later: “I’m young and it was a dumb mistake and I don’t want it to be the defining moment of my life.”
The court ordered Altamirano to be placed on probation -- so he can't have a gun and he can't use or be around alcohol.
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