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'Just a prank' says couple after setting homeless man on fire

By Karen Graham     Jul 25, 2015 in Crime
Albuquerque - An Albuquerque, New Mexico couple are now in custody after allegedly setting a homeless native American man on fire by throwing lit fireworks on July 11, 2015.
Albuquerque police arrested 31-year-old Joshua Benavidez and 31-year-old Irene Enriquez on Wednesday on suspicion of carrying out the July 11 attack on the homeless man in front of their two boys, ages eight and 13, and their two-year-old daughter.
The couple have been charged with aggravated battery with great bodily harm, tampering with evidence, three counts of child abuse and conspiracy. They are both being held on a $137,000 bond.
According to the IB Times, the arrest warrants shown to local media states the couple pulled up to the pavement where the man was sleeping by the side of the road at 8 p.m., local time, and started throwing fireworks at him out of the vehicle they were in.
Closed-circuit television video shows a purple SUV driving away from the scene when the homeless man's pants catch fire. After airing the surveillance footage, several witnesses came forward with tips about Benavidez's purple SUV. It was shortly afterward that police allege Mr. Benavidez painted the SUV white. At that time, Benavidez denied having anything to do with the crime.
However, the arrest warrants detail how one of the children told investigators how his mother, Ms. Enriquez, wanted to stop and throw water on the victim, but Mr. Benavidez would not let her. The same child said they had fled the scene after seeing the apparently unconscious man's pants legs were smoldering.
When taken in handcuffs, Enriquez was visibly upset, reports News.com.au. “I just want to say I’m sorry to my family and to my children,” she said. “I just hope [the victim] gets through this OK, and our prayers are with him.” When Enriquez was asked if the incident was a prank, she answered, "yes."
“It was just a prank, it was just trying to scare him, that was it,” Benavidez said. The couple told local media they were just trying to "rattle" the man. But the victim of this senseless crime is still in the intensive care unit of a New Mexico hospital.
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