By Mike Linn, CNJ news editor
A Clovis man accused of stabbing an acquaintance to death Monday afternoon told police in interviews he was acting in self defense, a detective with the Clovis Police Department said.
Joel Cordova, 24, of Clovis, is being held at the Curry County Adult Detention Center on an open count of murder in connection with the death of Victor Estrada, 19, of Clovis. He is also charged with tampering with evidence.
No bond has been set, detention center officials said.
Detective Kirk Roberts said Cordova and Estrada were angry at each other, but people he’s spoken with during the investigation are “being clear as mud” as to where the hostility originated.
Cordova told Roberts he stabbed Estrada in self defense, the detective said.
“It depends on who you talk to. He’s saying he was protecting himself. The others are saying he wasn’t protecting himself, that he was the aggressor. Which is the truth, well we’re trying to get through enough evidence and clarify statements and stuff to get down to that,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the murder charge does not necessarily mean police are leaning toward Cordova being the aggressor.
“It just means we have probable cause to support that charge,” Roberts said.
Jesse Estrada — the victim’s brother and a witness to the slaying — told police the two men were arguing and Cordova struck the victim in the chest, according to a police report. When Victor Estrada stepped back, there was blood on his chest, according to the report.
Jesse Estrada then transported his brother to Plains Regional Medical Center. Victor Estrada died 30 minutes to an hour after the incident, Roberts said.
Roberts said it looks as if Victor Estrada was stabbed once in the chest, but the exact number of stab wounds won’t be confirmed until officials with the state’s Office of the Medical Investigator complete an autopsy. He said police recovered a steak knife used in the altercation in a yard off Elm Street. He said Cordova was arrested Monday afternoon without incident at another residence.
Jesse Estrada told police he picked his brother up on Monday and drove him to a home at 201 Pinon, where Cordova was located. During the ride, Jesse Estrada noted his brother appeared “upset about something,” according to the report.
Jesse Estrada also told police he was the only person besides Cordova to witness the incident, according to the report.
Roberts said that’s not the case, as Cordova’s girlfriend also witnessed the confrontation.
A woman who answered the phone at Cordova’s residence and claimed to be his mother would not release the name of the girlfriend. The girlfriend could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.