Murder trial begins Monday

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

On Monday morning the selection of the jury for the trial of Steven Robert Duran will begin at the 9th District Court in Clovis.

Duran, 36, has been charged with murder in connection with the Jan. 13, 2004, shooting death of Ricardo Gallegos.

Gary C. Mitchell, Duran’s attorney, said evidence will show his client is innocent.

“The scientific evidence supports us,” Mitchell said. “DNA results show that Mr. Duran is not guilty … None of the victim’s DNA was on Mr. Duran and none of Mr. Duran’s DNA was on the victim.

“My client was not the shooter, he did not posses a firearm. Mr. Duran was nowhere near the victim,” Mitchell said.

The prosecutor for the state, District Attorney Matthew Chandler, declined comment other than to say he seeks a fair and impartial jury.

Mitchell said he is working with the DA to consolidate forensic evidence in preparation for the trial.

“There was more than one forensic examiner employed to investigate the evidence in this case, and the DA and I have agreed to knit this evidence,” Mitchell said.

Duran has been held under maximum security and without bond at the Curry County Adult Detention facility since Jan. 29, 2004, a jail official said Saturday night.

“All Steve Duran has been waiting for is his day in court,” Mitchell said Friday. “With a fair jury, Mr. Duran will be acquitted. He knows he didn’t do it.”

Gallegos, 47, was found lying in a pool of blood on his kitchen floor. Police reports indicated Gallegos suffered two bullet wounds, one in the head and one in the shoulder, and at least five shell casings were found in the kitchen of his home.

If convicted, Duran faces a maximum punishment of 45 years in prison, Chandler said.