By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
A 23-year-old Clovis man was sentenced Tuesday to 21 1/2 years in prison for his role in an argument over a cigarette lighter that turned deadly.
As part of a plea bargain, Mark Madrid pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shooting and killing Porfirio Gonzales, 52, of Clovis in March 2004 at a residence on Oak Street. Madrid also pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and tampering with evidence as part of the deal between the prosecution and the public defender’s office.
Although prosecutors asked for a 27 1/2 years in prison, the maximum under the plea agreement, District Judge Joe Parker opted for a lesser sentence. Madrid will have to serve a minimum of 17 years before he is eligible for parole.
Public defense attorney Michael Rosenfield of Albuquerque maintained his client’s actions came after Gonzales swung a stick at Madrid following an argument over the possession of a cigarette lighter. Rosenfield also said an excessive amount of drug use impaired the judgment of Madrid.
Madrid shot Gonzales and another man, Ernic Perez, 28, in the leg before turning his attention back to his first victim, according to witnesses.
“The picture painted by all the witnesses is that Mr. Gonzales was on the ground, on his elbows, trying to get up and (Madrid) stood a few feet from him and emptied his gun into him,” Deputy District Attorney Fred Van Soelen told the court.
Van Soelen said if Madrid had feared Gonzales before, he did not during the second, fatal volley of shots.
Rosenfield said his client consumed more than 30 beers in a 28-hour time period, as well as having taken other drugs prior to the shooting.
“I just want to say I take full responsibility for everything that happened and that I apologize to the victim’s families,” said Madrid, addressing the court. He blamed his drug consumption as a reason for the shooting.
“Even with my limited experience on the bench, this is the most extraordinary and extreme abuse of a narcotic I’ve ever seen,” Parker said.
“The extreme amount of alcohol has been used by the defense to minimize or neutralize the act of involvement, but I can’t excuse the behavior of Mr. Madrid because of the extraordinary consumption of intoxicants.”
No family members of either the victim or the defendant spoke during the sentencing hearing.
Van Soelen said prosecutors considered taking Madrid to court on the original charge of first-degree murder before opting for the plea agreement.
“Because first-degree murder is a capital crime, the only thing you can sentence him to is life in prison,” Van Soelen said.
“In first-degree murder, or a capital sentence, you’d be eligible for parole in 30 years. Twenty-seven and a half years as a plea offer was the lowest we were going to go to. If it had gone to trial, he could have been convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or even something less than that. Instead of the uncertainty of going to a jury, this is a sure thing.”