Homicide in De Baca County Investigated by State Police

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Written by Lieutenant Mark Soriano 02/19/2021

Fort Sumner, NM – On February 8, 2021, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was contacted to investigate the death of a male subject who was pronounced deceased at Plain Regional Medical Center in Clovis, New Mexico.


During an extensive investigation, State Police agents learned in the early morning hours of February 5, 2021 Casey Cortese (31) and Arron Harden (38) went to Michael Gutierrez’s (26) residence in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Harden and Cortese confronted Gutierrez for allegedly stealing methamphetamine from a friend. Harden and Cortese took Gutierrez to the residence of their friend whom he allegedly stole methamphetamine from. There, Cortese attacked Gutierrez, beating him with a handgun. Harden grabbed a hose and began striking Gutierrez. As Gutierrez defended himself, he took Harden to the ground. Harden got up, armed himself with a hammer, and continued to beat Gutierrez.


Gutierrez who was severely beat, made it back to his residence. He admitted himself to a local hospital in Santa Rosa, New Mexico on Sunday, February 7, 2021. He was treated for his injuries and released.


On Monday, February 8, 2021 Gutierrez’s mother noticed his speech was slurred and skin color was pale. She contacted emergency medical personnel. Gutierrez was taken to Plain Regional Hospital in Clovis, New Mexico where he later succumbed to his injuries.


An arrest warrant was issued for Casey Cortese and Arron Harden on February 17, 2021. Cortese and Harden were arrested and taken into custody without incident and booked into the De Baca County Detention Center. Cortese and Harden were charged with the following:


  • Murder in the 2nd Degree
  • Kidnapping
  • Conspiracy to commit Kidnapping
  • Assault with intent to commit a violent felony