Clerk: State Supreme Court tosses murder indictments

The New Mexico Supreme Court has tossed out grand jury murder indictments against a man accused of killing a Clovis couple during a 2011 backyard barbecue that erupted in gunfire.

The court ordered the double murder indictment of Enrique Deleon quashed during a hearing Wednesday, according to Supreme Court Chief Clerk Joey Moya. The court, however, left the door open for a new grand jury to consider the same charges against Deleon, who remains in the Curry County jail, according to 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler.

"The defendant will remain in custody and has a new grand jury setting already scheduled for next Friday," Chandler said.

Deleon was charged in the September 2011 shooting deaths of Joe Valero, 44, and Lupita Casteneda, 25, of Clovis during a backyard barbecue at their home in the 1000 block of Prince Street.

Police said the shooting was the culmination of an argument about gangs. Deleon has remained in jail awaiting trial since the homicides. His jury trial has been postponed at least three times.

Deleon's attorney Kirk Chavez challenged the indictments for murder, alleging among other reasons that the 9th Judicial District Court had violated state law by delegating Chandler's office to notify grand jurors when to assemble.

District Court Chief Judge Teddy Hartley later issued an order specifying that only court staff could summon or excuse grand jurors from service.

Moya said the Supreme Court's decision and the reasons cited by justices won't likely be published until sometime Thursday.

Phil Sisneros, communications director for Attorney General Gary King, said attorneys from King's office represented District Court Cheif Judge Teddy Hartley in the hearing and, "The ruling was the quashing of the grand jury indictment."

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