Darrell Todd Maurina
The Clovis area has seen five deaths related to firearms in the past seven months and 9th Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter said the violence is not typical.
“This has probably been one of the most violent years as far as firearms-related deaths,” Carter said. “I think this is the first time we’ve had five homicides in a year that have all involved firearms.”
The year’s first murder trial is scheduled Oct. 22-24. That’s when Fernando Garcia, 20, faces a three-day trial on charges of first-degree murder in connection with the commission of a felony, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and dogfighting. Garcia is accused in the late February death of Moises Ortiz.
Other pending cases include Dominic Murphy, 25, and Joey Martinez, 27, both charged in connection with a double homicide in February. Carter said Martinez will have a Dec. 11 hearing and Murphy’s case is scheduled for a five-day jury trial Feb. 9-13 in Clovis.
Also in February, Carter said his office will be trying Alesia M. Thomas, 21, accused of first-degree murder and abuse of a child involving the death of her infant daughter.
James Rogers, 42, faces a grand jury Sept. 26 in connection with the Sept. 9 shooting death of David Michael Wilt outside a home on North Prince.
Clovis police say they have a warrant out for the arrest of an unnamed suspect in the Sept. 7 shooting of Hugo Medrano Ochoa, 30. Ochoa survived that shooting.
Carter said the wave of homicide cases and other violent crimes has put pressure on his staff, and noted that a number of lesser shooting crimes haven’t even reached his desk for prosecution.
“We’ve also had a number of drive-by shootings and those are on the increase,” Carter said. “They often don’t make the paper and don’t even come to our office because there are no suspects. We’ve had people call and say their houses are being shot at and a couple of people have been hit, but we have no cases to prosecute because they couldn’t give a description to identify who shot them.”
Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher said he has some leads in the investigation of the Sept. 4 shooting death of Clovis businessman J.C. Tucker.
“We’re still hammering away, checking a bunch of different leads and people we want to talk to. That’s the most difficult part,” Hatcher said.
Hatcher said his office’s investigation is focusing on determining a motive for the Tucker shooting and time of death, which he expects will help investigators decide between two theories about the case. Hatcher declined to explain the two theories.
“That’s why we need the autopsy report and to know when people saw him last,” Hatcher said. “We know where, we know how, and now we’ve got to figure out when and why, and pretty soon we’ll figure out who.”
Carter said the next major criminal case expected to go to trial involves John Jacobs, 21, accused of a number of rapes in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
Jacobs has pleaded not guilty and faces a two-day jury trial in Portales beginning Oct. 2 on charges of criminal sexual penetration involving force or coercion and personal injury, as well as a second charge of tampering with evidence. The next week, Jacobs faces four counts of criminal sexual penetration and four counts of kidnapping in a two-day jury trial in Clovis beginning Oct. 7