Fight promoter found innocent in Tucumcari shooting

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks James Burleson, a Socorro fight promoter accused of killing a Tucumcari man in 2007, awaits the verdict Thursday from a Curry County jury.

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

A Curry County jury found Socorro fight promoter James Burleson innocent Thursday of voluntary manslaughter in the 2007 shooting death of a Tucumcari man.

The jury returned the verdict after four hours of deliberation.

Burleson was accused of the Feb. 1, 2007, killing of martial arts fighter Jason Pacheco, 31, during a struggle in downtown Tucumcari.

“I am disappointed in the verdict,” Assistant District Attorney Bryan McKay said. “They did not come to the decision quickly … They exercised their duty.”

“Sometimes the system works,” said Lee Deschamps, Burleson’s defense attorney. “I am glad that this is one of those times.”

“I am sorry for his mother and his children,” Burleson said after the trial. “I am sorry that this ever happened. I am just glad that this is over.”

Investigators said Pacheco and Burleson were on their way to the Apollo Gym in Tucumcari when they met on the sidewalk. A fight started and Burleson “was able to get to the center of his console of his vehicle and retrieve his pistol,” court records show.

“The defendant then left his vehicle with the pistol,” according to records. “The pistol was either knocked from his hand or dropped when he exited his vehicle. The altercation between defendant and decedent continued until the defendant was able to retrieve his pistol whereupon he fired point blank into decedent’s chest resulting in the death of Jason Pacheco.”