Portales man sentenced in home invasion

Courtesy photo Joel Zertuche, 19, was given the maximum sentence Wednesday after being convicted of aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary in January, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

A Portales man has received a sentence of 12 years in the state penitentiary in the 2008 beating of a then-82-year-old woman and the burglary of her house.

Joel Zertuche, 19, was given the maximum sentence Wednesday after being convicted of aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary in January, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.

District Attorney Matt Chandler said Zertuche was in Roosevelt County Detention Center awaiting transport to the state Department of Corrections facility in Los Lunas.

“Although it doesn’t fully restore Ms. (Jo Ann) Vickers (after) what happened to her, it’s the maximum sentence under New Mexico law,” Chandler said.

Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer, who prosecuted the case, said the sentence was appropriate.

Portales Police Capt. Lonnie said Zertuche was one of the men who entered Vickers’ house in March 2008, beat her when she came out of her bedroom, stole her property and left after disabling her phone.

Berry said Vickers crawled to the front porch, where a neighbor heard her calling for help. Police were able to recover some of her property and arrested Zertuche and two suspected accomplices within the week.

Mowrer said Vickers requested the maximum sentence for Zertuche at the hearing.

Vickers told the court she can no longer work, drive for long periods of time or live alone, and some days feels a lot of pain, Mowrer said. She said Vickers also told the court she hoped keeping Zertuche in jail would prevent others from being harmed.

“The injuries and scars are permanent, and she’s a very caring lady; she does have forgiveness for her attackers,” Chandler said.

Jay Brian Stewart and Preston Blake, both of Portales, were also charged in connection to the incident.

Stewart, 21, was previously convicted of residential burglary and was sentenced to six years. Mowrer said evidence indicated Stewart was involved in the incident, but wasn’t in the house when Vickers was beaten.

Baker, 25, faces trial Wednesday and Thursday in Portales. He is charged with aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, receiving stolen property and two counts of attempting to dispose of stolen property. Mowrer said Blake could face at least 18 1/2 years in prison if convicted.