Court upholds murder conviction

Staff and wire reports

SANTA FE — The state Supreme Court has upheld the convictions and prison sentence of a Clovis man for a 2001 murder and robbery.

Pedro J. Amaro was sentenced to life in prison plus 31 years for murder, robbery, burglary, arson and other crimes in the stabbing death of Ken Smith in April 2001.

In New Mexico, a life sentence means serving at least 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.

The court, in an unanimous ruling issued Monday, rejected all of Amaro’s legal challenges.

Amaro had contended that there wasn’t enough evidence to support his conviction of first-degree murder and argued that a judge had wrongly increased some of his sentences because of prior felony convictions, including a robbery case in Texas.

Amaro’s grandfather, John Amaro of Clovis, said he believes evidence was deficient for the convictions and sentence imposed.

“I really feel like he didn’t deserve what he got. But I guess that’s a normal feeling,” he said, emphasizing that he felt badly for the victim’s family.

“I asked him one day if he did it, and he said, ‘I don’t remember doing anything like that,’” Amaro said.

A jury disagreed, and found Amaro guilty on a number of charges, including first degree murder.

At the sentencing hearing, Pedro Amaro maintained his innocence, but District Judge Stephen Quinn sentenced him to life in prison plus 31 years, calling the crime “brutal” and “savage.”

The victim was found in his home. His throat had been slashed and nine ribs were broken. Amaro had been at a party with the victim and others and later accompanied the victim home.