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Dallas Hnulik

Dallas Hnulik

An Artesia man was sentenced Friday in Fifth Judicial District Court in Carlsbad on a second-degree murder conviction stemming from the 2010 shooting of a local woman.

Dallas Hnulik, 28, was sentenced by Judge Lisa B. Riley to 16 years in prison with four years suspended for the murder of 32-year-old Brandy Capps of Artesia.

Hnulik was convicted of the crime by a district court jury July 15.

The shooting occurred July 31, 2010, at a residence on North 13th Street. Capps, who was seated in the passenger seat of a vehicle, was killed when Hnulik, from the backseat, fired a shot to her head from close range with a single-action revolver.

During the trial, firearms experts discounted Hnulik’s allegation that the gun discharged accidentally. State attorneys also pointed out a history of domestic disputes between the couple.

Hnulik’s defense lawyer, Kenneth Wilson, along with friends and family members, pointed out Hnulik’s drug addiction and young son while requesting leniency. But State Attorney Joseph Spindle, who cited audio clips of conversations between Hnulik, his father, and an unknown woman – recorded while the defendant was in jail – that allegedly captured Hnulik expressing intent to smuggle the drug suboxone into prison as well as commit violent acts against his most recent girlfriend, stated there was “absolutely no way this man deserves leniency from the court.”

Capps’ mother, Brenda McKnight, spoke in court Friday, stating she knew Hnulik was under the influence of “the devil named meth” and had forgiven him. However, McKnight said, his sentence “would never make up for” the death of her daughter.

Riley, who called the case a “dangerous mixture” of methamphetamine use and domestic violence, also ordered Hnulik to complete drug treatment and domestic violence intervention. Following his 12-year sentence, he will remain on supervised probation for the suspended four years.

The Eddy County Sheriff’s Office Friday recognized the culmination of the case as the result of a five-year effort involving the ECSO, Office of Attorney General, and Pecos Valley Drug Task Force. The ECSO also recognized retired Cpt. Jeff Zuniga, who was “instrumental in pursuing the charges for Ms. Capps’ murder.”

Attorney General Hector Balderas also issued a statement following sentencing, stating his office would “continue to work with local law enforcement across New Mexico to prevent and prosecute violent crime in order to make New Mexico safer for all our families.”

“It is my sincere hope that this sentence will bring some closure to the Capps family and the community,” Balderas said.