New Mexico authorities charged a convicted murderer in the prison death of Frank Pauline Jr., who was serving time in the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility for the 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of Dana Ireland.
Daniel Thomas Hood, 34, already serving time for first- and second-degree murder, confessed to hitting Pauline in the head with a rock “because he was a snitch and he walked around like he owned the place,” the New Mexico Department of Public Safety said in a news release.
Hood was charged Thursday with first-degree murder, a capital felony, and possession of a deadly weapon or explosive by a prisoner.
Pauline’s half brother, John Gonsalves, said, “I still feel it’s a cover-up. If Frank was a snitch, he wouldn’t be walking around like he owned the place. … I still say he was set up and someone put a hit on him.”
The April 27 killing came the day after the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported that the Hawaii Innocence Project and Judges for Justice said they were attempting to exonerate the three convicted in the Ireland case because the DNA evidence did not match the DNA of the three.
Ireland died after being attacked on Christmas Eve in 1991 on Hawaii island.
“A guy doing two life terms suddenly goes off and kills a person the day after he was focused on as highly likely to be innocent according to information being developed by the Innocence Project,” said Brook Hart, attorney for the Hawaii Innocence Project.
A criminal complaint charging Hood also names a second possible suspect, an inmate who made a phone call to a female and asked her to do a Google search for Frank Pauline.
The complaint said the man, who has not yet been charged, called the woman again, and asked her what she was able to find out.
The female tells the inmate “Pauline also had charges for murdering and raping a 23-year-old female. At this time, (the inmate) tells the female that those charges are bad.”
The prison’s Security Threat Intelligence Unit captain told a state police investigator the prison had been monitoring the inmate’s phone calls.
Hart said the claim that Pauline was a snitch is “pretty generic language. People get killed all the time (in prison) because they’re snitches.”
He said he doesn’t have any hard evidence that Hood was acting on information about the Hawaii case, but vows to find out if possible. “It doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Pauline was found lying face up in the dirt with a pool of blood on his side near his head and shoulder, and the rock was located nearby. Hood had blood on his shoes and his sweatshirt, the complaint said.
Sgt. Chad Pierce of the New Mexico State Police said because the murder was premeditated, it raises the level of the charge to first-degree murder.
There was no indication of Hood being a hire or another party directing him to do it, Pierce said.
Hood told the investigator with the state police he planned his movements, and that he intended to seriously injure or kill him. He followed Pauline as he walked laps around the rec yard. Pauline first struck him in the back of the head, then after Pauline hit the ground, he hit him twice again, then threw the rock and kept walking.