State opens murder trial

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

District Attorney Matthew Chandler said Joel Cordova committed “cold” and “calculated” murder July 26 when he plunged a steak knife into the chest of an acquaintance.

Chandler laid out the state’s case Tuesday against Cordova, who faces more than 30 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence charges.

Cordova has claimed he acted in self defense.

Chandler told a Clovis jury in his opening remarks that evidence and testimony will also show Cordova acted as the aggressor in killing Victor Estrada, 19, at a residence in the 200 block of Pinon St. He said Cordova was angry when he felt his girlfriend had been disrespected, and woke up the day of the slaying “on a mission.”

“The defendant pulled out a steak knife and rammed it dead center into his chest, piercing his heart,” Chandler said.
Cordova’s attorney, James Klipstine, declined to give an opening argument, opting to present it later in the trial.

According to police reports, the victim’s brother, Jesse Estrada, told police he picked up his brother the day of the incident and drove him to a home at 201 Pinon St., where Cordova was located. Jesse Estrada noticed his brother appeared “upset about something,” according to the police report.

Following the stabbing, Jesse Estrada drove his brother to the hospital, reports said. In court testimony Tuesday, Estrada said he left the hospital to contact family members. When he returned a short time later, police detained him for questioning.

His brother died shortly after arriving at the hospital, Chandler said Tuesday.

Klipstine asked Estrada on the witness stand if he left the hospital to dispose of a gun, and if he had planned a drive-by shooting on Cordova.

Estrada answered no to both questions, adding in re-direct that he never owned a gun and no gun was present the day of the incident.

The trial is expected to last until Thursday afternoon.