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Second suspect faces murder charge in death of uncle south of Cortez

Tanya Lori Ahasteen
Tanya Lori Ahasteen is arrested for first-degree murder, held on $1 million bond

A second suspect has been arrested in the slaying of a man in a residence south of Cortez in March, according to the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Tanya Lori Ahasteen, 34, has been charged by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of first-degree murder in the March 9 death of Alvin “AJ” Cayatineto, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

She was arrested on a warrant last week in Mesa, Arizona, and extradited to Montezuma County, said District Attorney Matt Margeson.

Her sister, Latonya Laura Ahasteen, was arrested March 16 in Cortez and faces charges of second-degree murder of Cayatineto. She is being held on a $750,000 bond in the Montezuma County Detention Center.

During a court hearing Thursday in Montezuma County District Court, Tanya Ahasteen’s bond was set at $1 million cash surety by Magistrate Nathanial Baca. A GPS monitor would be required if she did post bond.

In setting the bond, Baca said Ahasteen is a high flight risk and a danger to the community given the nature of the allegations.

Protection orders were issued preventing her from contacting 17 people or being within 100 yards of them.

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Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Reed requested the $1 million bond. He cited the alleged “violent assault on the victim” and the defendant’s history of failing to appear for court appearances.

“There is strong evidence of premeditation here, and high risk of flight,” Reed said.

Family members of the victim were invited to speak regarding the setting of bond and urged no bond be made available.

Alvin Cayatineto was found dad in a camp trailer at 5603 U.S. Highway 491. The death is being investigated as a homicide, according to the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office.
Latonya Laura Ahasteen (Courtesy 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office)

Cayatineto’s body was discovered the evening of March 11 by family members who visited his camp trailer, parked at 5603 U.S. Highway 491, the property of CDL Trucking, where he worked.

He had been beaten on the head and stabbed in the chest and neck, according to the autopsy and arrest affidavit. Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers ruled the death a homicide and that it happened days earlier.

According to the arrest affidavit, Tanya and Latonya Ahasteen, were living at the trailer with Cayatineto, who was their uncle.

During an interview with Montezuma County Sheriff’s Detective John Haynes, witness Tanya Ahasteen said she and Latonya Ahasteen had started drinking the morning of March 9 while Cayatineto was away receiving dialysis treatment. After he returned, he and Latonya Ahasteen began arguing, according to the affidavit.

Tanya Ahasteen said she initially tried to get them to stop arguing then left the camp trailer and sat in Cayatineto’s Nissan Rogue and listened to music.

When she went back in the trailer, she told investigators, Latonya Ahasteen had a pole in one hand and knife in another, and that Cayatineto was gasping for air and covered in blood.

The sisters left the scene in the Nissan Rogue, with Tanya Ahasteen driving. A short time later, she got in a vehicle crash on North Broadway and was arrested for DUI by the Cortez Police Department. She was later released April 5.

The investigation into the suspected homicide continued and involved the Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Navajo Police. Evidence emerged that allege Tanya Ahasteen was also involved in the suspected homicide of Cayatineto, according to a June 29 arrest warrant affidavit for her written by Montezuma County Sheriff Detective Travis Anderson.

The affidavit states a witness told investigators he had received messages via Facebook and text from one or both of the sisters indicating they may have both planned the alleged homicide, that it may have been carried out, and that they fled the scene. Police obtained warrants to analyze the Facebook and phone messages.

According to the arrest affidavit, based on the investigation, Tanya Ahasteen is suspected of first-degree murder because “she had specific knowledge of the manner in which AJ Cayatineto was murdered,” and allegedly told a witness about plans to kill him. The weapons allegedly used in the attack on Cayatineto were recovered “after the fact in Tanya and Latonya’s possession.”

Tanya Ahasteen’s next court date is Aug. 8 for filing of charges. Latonya Ahasteen’s next court date is Sept. 7 for a preliminary hearing.