A man accused of killing his estranged girlfriend four days after he got out of prison has become a central figure in the New Mexico governor’s race amid Republican assertions Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is responsible for his early release.
Christopher Beltran, 27, has become a poster boy for what Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti and the Republican Governors Association have characterized as Lujan Grisham’s soft-on-crime policies that have made New Mexico a dangerous place to live.
Both Ronchetti and the RGA have cited the Beltran case in attack ads that pin his “early” release — and the subsequent killing of Dominique Gonzales of Roswell — on Lujan Grisham.
“The governor released him from prison early, said he was ready to be our neighbor,” claims an ad from Ronchetti.
“Days after his early release, he hunted his ex-girlfriend down, shot her in the face, murdered her,” states an ad from the RGA.
Will Reinert, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, said the release of a “hardened criminal” resulted in a “preventable murder.”
“Lujan Grisham’s attempt to shirk responsibility won’t undo the pain caused to the victim’s family,” he wrote in a statement. “But it does show New Mexicans her true colors.”
In prison phone recordings, Beltran had threatened Gonzales before his release.
“Got the biggest gun that I could have from the [expletive] gun store,” he told her in one recording that was included in the RGA’s ad. “[Expletive] dead girl walking.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti again put murder defendant Christopher Beltran at the center of campaign debate, announcing Monday he would pursue legislation designed to prevent the early release of “dangerous criminals” from New Mexico prisons.
Ronchetti’s camp has named the proposed legislation “Monique’s Law” after Roswell resident Dominique Gonzales, whom authorities allege was fatally shot by ex-boyfriend Beltran in June 2021.
Ryan Sabel, a campaign spokesman for Ronchetti, a former TV meteorologist, wrote in an email Monday the proposal was named with the blessing of Gonzales’ family.
Ronchetti spotlighted her death, which came days after Beltran’s release from prison, during a televised debate Oct. 12 with Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“His story is shocking,” Ronchetti said in the debate. “He was released early from prison and then he was on the phone from prison before being released talking to his girlfriend, saying he was coming to get her. … He made good on that promise.”