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El Paso murder suspect claims self-defense in fatal stabbing during sexual encounter

Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times

A young man accused of murder claims he was defending himself when an older man attempted to rape him, court documents state.

Ivan Gabaldon, 20, is accused of stabbing to death 63-year-old Juan Garcia Flores last month in a building on Texas Avenue near Downtown El Paso.

Details in the homicide investigation and what Gabaldon told investigators were disclosed in a criminal complaint affidavit filed by an El Paso police detective.

On Feb. 23, the body of Garcia Flores was found at 8 a.m. after paramedics and patrol officers were dispatched to check on a person's well-being at a lighting fixture business at 1710 Texas Ave. 

Garcia Flores was found dead in a small bathroom face down in a pool of blood with several stab wounds to his back and neck, the affidavit states.

Ivan Gabaldon faces a murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of Juan Garcia Flores on Texas Avenue on Feb. 22, 2021.

A detective noted that Garcia Flores resided in a room in a living arrangement inside the business. His vehicle was missing.

Police found the vehicle that night parked in the 900 block of Myrtle Avenue in Downtown.

The next day, a person called detectives, telling them a young man known by the nickname "Chavalon," meaning a "young person" or "kid," allegedly had confessed to the killing, the complaint states.

On Saturday, Gabaldon was located by police after a person notified investigators that "Chavalon" was seen in the area of Myrtle Avenue near Downtown, the affidavit states.

Fatal encounter

In an interview at police headquarters, Gabaldon told detectives that he met Garcia Flores for a sexual encounter for money, the complaint states. 

According to the complaint, Gabaldon told investigators that Garcia Flores drove a white pickup and would solicit men for sexual favors in the Downtown area. 

On Feb. 22, Garcia Flores picked up Gabaldon on a street and offered to pay him $20 so Garcia Flores could perform oral sex on him, the complaint states.

They went to the business on Texas Avenue, where Garcia Flores performed the sex act as they had agreed, Gabaldon told detectives, according to the complaint.

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Gabaldon alleged that Garcia Flores began kissing him and attempted to sodomize him with his fingers. Gabaldon wanted to leave but claimed Garcia Flores allegedly threatened him with a knife and threatened to sodomize him with a broomstick, the affidavit states. 

Gabaldon told detectives that he was able to take the knife away and stabbed Garcia Flores several times before escaping.

The complaint states that Gabaldon told investigators that he took the keys and drove away in Garcia Flores' vehicle and threw the knife away on an unknown street. He parked in the 900 block of Myrtle Avenue, sold the vehicle for $200, changed clothes and fled to Juárez.

No report of alleged attack

Detectives learned from Gabaldon's cellphone information patterns that Gabaldon would enter the U.S. from Juárez on an almost daily basis via the pedestrian lane at the Paso del Norte Bridge.

An El Paso County Jail log lists Gabaldon as residing in the 79901 ZIP code in the Downtown area.

The complaint states that based on cellphone information, investigators suspect that Gabaldon and Garcia Flores would meet often in the early morning on the days that Gabaldon would cross the border from Mexico.

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Detectives stated that Gabaldon "did not make any attempt to report the alleged attack, nor did he attempt to call 911 to summon medical aid for the victim. (Gabaldon's) actions were only those of destruction of the evidence to preclude him from the violent murder of the victim."

The affidavit noted that an autopsy determined that Garcia Flores died from multiple stab wounds.

Gabaldon remains held at the El Paso County Jail in Downtown under a $1 million bond.

Daniel Borunda may be reached at 915-546-6102;; @BorundaDaniel on Twitter.

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A homicide investigation was underway after a body was found Feb. 23 in a building in the 1700 block of Texas Avenue near Downtown El Paso.