New Mexico ski champ found not guilty in murder trial

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Judge George Eichwald declared Dean Cummings a free man Wednesday as he read a jury verdict clearing him of all charges, including murder.

The champion skier was cleared of one count each of second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and concealing identity, which he faced for the February 29, 2020 shooting death of Guillermo Arriola.

The criminal complaint states Cummings allegedly shot and killed Guillermo Arriola during an argument over some property in Sandoval County he tried to buy from Arriola. Cummings allegedly said he shot Arriola with an AR-15 rifle after Arriola sprayed him in the face with a chemical.

In June 2020, a judge ruled Cummings incompetent to stand trial and that he be committed to a state behavioral institute in Las Vegas. Then in March 2021, he was found competent to stand trial.

The long saga was contrasted by a quick trial. Jury selection occurred on November 1, then the trial began on November 2 and a verdict was read on November 9.

Cummings is a former U.S. Ski Team member and a world extreme skiing champion. At one point in the 1990s, he was ranked as the top freestyle skier in the U.S. and one of the top freestyle skiers in North America.

Cummings learned to ski at Pajarito Mountain near Los Alamos and has long been an advocate for New Mexico skiing, especially Taos Ski Valley.