Harding teen found guilty in murder trial

By Ryn Gargulinski

A Quay County jury on Thursday found a Harding County teenager guilty of murder.

Norman Tyrell Cates, 18, was convicted of killing Lena Barrett, a senior citizen from Roy. She was found dead in her home on Dec. 20, 2004, according to a release from the office of Quay District Attorney Don Schutte.

The jury deliberated about three hours before pronouncing Cates guilty of first-degree murder, the release said.

State police said Barrett had been stabbed several times, strangled and beaten.

The trial was moved from Harding to Quay County due to massive publicity surrounding the case and the dim prospects of finding an unbiased jury due to connections in the community, according to Cates’ defense attorney Abigail Aragon.

Although he was only 17 at the time of the slaying, Cates was tried as an adult.

The jury found Cates not guilty of aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence, officials said.
Schutte’s office said Cates could face life in prison and sentencing will be made after a diagnostic evaluation is performed by the New Mexico Department of Corrections.