34-year-old Clovis man’s retrial postponed

Sharna Johnson

A second trial for a 34-year-old Clovis man has been postponed.

Robert Macias’ five-day trial was expected to begin Monday in 9th Judicial District Court, but it was continued late last week, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.

Chandler said the decision to postpone came at the last minute during a Friday pre-trial motion hearing.

“The defense requested a continuance in the 11th hour due to the unavailability of a member of the defense team, and Judge (Stephen) Quinn reluctantly granted the continuance over the objection of the (district attorney’s) office, thus postponing the trial,” he said.

“The state was more than ready and able to start trial on Monday.”

Chandler said the trial is expected to be held in the early part of 2011.

The retrial in the 4-year-old case was granted after Macias’ 2007 first-degree murder conviction was overturned in May 2009 by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Macias was serving a life term plus 22 years.

Wilfred Salas Jr., 19, was killed by a single gunshot to the head in the early morning hours of Jan. 15, 2006, as he drove on Merriwether Street.

In its original ruling, the court cited as an error a decision by now-retired District Judge Joe Parker to allow a two-minute telephone call entered as evidence.

Justices said recorded telephone conversations between Macias’ girlfriend and her cousin discussing the killing should not have been played for the jury because their statements were hearsay.

The cousin was in jail at the time.

The girlfriend, Jessica Gutierrez, talked to Macias the night of the killing. Later in a telephone call to her cousin, Gutierrez told about Macias making admissions to her.

Court records show nearly 30 witnesses had been subpoenaed for the new trial, the majority of whom testified in the first trial.

Prosecutors said Macias shot Salas because he had overheard him making fun of him earlier in the evening. They presented testimony of his associate Daniel Garcia, who said he was with Macias when he fired on Salas’ car as it drove by.

Macias, who took the stand in his own defense at the trial, testified he was sleeping at a friend’s house when the shooting took place.