Testimony shows blood found in suspect’s vehicle

Steven Duran, left, listens to testimony along with his lawyer Gary Mitchell on Tuesday during Duran’s trial in the killing of Ricardo Gallegos at the Curry County Courthouse in Clovis. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

Police found blood in the vehicle of a man accused of killing Ricardo Gallegos early last year, according to court testimony heard Tuesday.

Steven Robert Duran, 36, is accused of killing Gallegos on Jan. 13, 2004. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of murder. Tuesday was the second day of his trial, which is expected to wrap up today.

A Clovis police officer testified blood was found inside and outside Duran’s vehicle, on the steering wheel, on the gear shift, on the side of the driver’s seat, behind the driver’s seat, on the floor of the front passenger door, on the door handle, on the bottom door frame of the vehicle and on the chrome trim of the driver’s side door.

Blood from inside Duran’s vehicle was swabbed and collected as evidence for DNA sequencing, but testimony Tuesday did not reveal if tests matched the blood inside Duran’s car to that of Gallegos.

In Monday’s testimony, the victim’s girlfriend said she heard Duran in the trailer where Gallegos was shot and a neighbor said he saw Duran’s vehicle outside Gallegos’ residence that night, but witnesses thus far have not testified that they saw Duran with Gallegos the night he was killed.

Prosecutors are expected to call one more witness today, then the defense will present its case.

Here’s a summary of each witness who testified on Tuesday:

• Sean Gore, a Clovis police officer who was the first to respond to the scene of the shooting: He said Mary Finnell, Gallegos’ girlfriend, told him that Duran shot Gallegos. He said she provided that information when he arrived at the scene. Under cross-examination, Gore was asked if Finnell told him she witnessed Duran shoot Gallegos. Gore said no.

• Christine Mirosa, assistant manager at an Allsup’s convenience store where Gallegos and Finnell purchased drinks, food and cigarettes hours before the shooting: She testified that Gallegos came into the store repeatedly almost every day. She said she saw Gallegos had a large wad of bills in his pocket on the day he was killed. Previous testimony has shown that Gallegos did not have any money on him when his body was found.

• Paul Pacheco, the officer who arrested Duran in Albuquerque about two weeks after the slaying: He said he located Duran at a house which was under surveillance at 1512 Quiet Desert in Albuquerque. He said he was among a team of officers who entered the home where Duran was found. He said he found Duran in the living room crouched in a corner, and that his physical description was different from that on his arrest warrant. Pacheco said Duran had orange hair from a “bad dye job” and his facial hair had been shaved off.

• Kirk Roberts, a Clovis police officer who photographed the scene where Gallegos was killed: District Attorney Matt Chandler provided a map of the victim’s trailer home for Roberts to mark evidence locations. Roberts provided locations for blood-soaked carpets, bullet holes, scuff marks, footprints, eight shell casings and the victim’s body.

Roberts said the New Mexico crime lab analyzed all eight shell casings found inside and around the trailer where the shooting occurred. Roberts said he received the crime lab’s report on Jan. 24, 2004. It said: “All casings were extracted from the same weapon.”

Roberts told Duran’s attorney, Gary Mitchell, that none of the blood in Gallegos’ trailer was examined by the crime lab; that he had assumed during his investigation that all the blood in the trailer had come from the victim.

Roberts said he could not say conclusively what weapon or weapons the bullets and shell casings came from. He agreed with Mitchell’s statement that the bullets and shells found at the scene could have been fired from any of several types of guns.

Roberts said he did not know of any gun recovered in connection with Gallegos’ slaying. He also said police never attempted to lift fingerprints from the shell casings found at the scene.

After Chandler showed the court some photographs of blood found in Duran’s silver two-door Toyota pickup, Roberts explained how some of the blood marks and drops may have gotten in the pickup.

Roberts agreed with Mitchell that it’s possible many of the blood marks could have been splattered. He said “yes” when Mitchell asked if a cut on the hand could result in a lot of blood.

• Dr. Ross Zumwala, the state’s chief medical examiner who oversaw Gallegos’ autopsy: He said heroin metabolites (indicative of heroin ingestion) were found in Gallegos’ blood. He said he couldn’t tell exactly how far the gun was held from Gallegos, but that he was shot six times and that three wounds indicated the shots were from close range. He said he did not note any injuries to the body that were indicative of a physical struggle.