A Santa Fe man was in jail and his husband hospitalized following a Wednesday night shooting the suspect said was an accident fueled by alcohol.
A criminal complaint a sheriff’s detective filed Thursday in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court says Gene Covington, 71, faces charges of attempt to commit murder and tampering with evidence. He is accused of shooting his husband, Patrick Murphy, at their home on Cibola Circle on the city’s southeast side.
The complaint says Covington called 911 just after 7 p.m. Wednesday to report he needed an ambulance because he had just shot his husband during a dispute after the two had been drinking cocktails.
Emergency medical responders took Murphy to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and remained in critical condition, the complaint says.
Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the call found a firearm in the backyard, blood droplets smeared on the kitchen floor and in the media room, and a wet mop nearby, the complaint says.
During an interview later that night, Covington told a detective he had intended to fire a shot near his husband but mistakenly struck him. Covington, who appeared to have blood on his hands, a shin and shoes, was visibly shaken, the detective wrote.
According to the complaint, Covington said his husband had scared him and that “alcohol leads to bad decisions.”
After they had been drinking cocktails, Covington told the detective, they started arguing and Murphy began using an “aggressive” tone of voice. He was afraid his husband might harm him, Covington said, so he got Murphy’s loaded gun out of a bedside drawer and pointed it at him.
The complaint says Covington said Murphy had told him, “You’re not going to shoot me,” and he replied, “Yes I am.”
He knowingly pulled the trigger, Covington told the detective, but had meant to fire just past Murphy. In his state of disbelief about shooting his husband, the complaint says, he couldn’t remember what he had done with the firearm and failed to render aid.
Online records show Covington was booked in the Santa Fe County jail around 2 a.m. Thursday and was being held without bond.
According to court records, he has never faced any prior charges in the state.
In an interview with The New Mexican at a Santa Fe Pride celebration in June 2015, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Covington and Murphy said they had gotten married in California seven years earlier.
The Oklahoma natives said they had been partners for much longer — at the time, 44 years.