Latham pleads no contest in Throckmorton shooting

Chelle Delaney

A Tucumcari man on Friday was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the April 24, 2007, shooting death of Tiffany Throckmorton.

Phillip J. Latham Jr., 26, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder charges and was sentenced by Judge David Reeb.

Prosecutor Len Walker told the court he believed a jury would ultimately have convicted Latham on second-degree charges — and not more serious first-degree charges — because the gun used in the slaying was cheaply made and discharged easily.

Defense attorney Gloria McCary showed the judge why the shooting could have been an accident.

“I think what we have here is two foolish young people,” McCary said.

Walker said Throckmorton, 21, had known Latham for about a month before the shooting. He alleged Throckmorton was selling drugs and Latham had wanted Throckmorton to travel to Albuquerque to make a drug buy.

Latham was purposely at Throckmorton’s house to show her “how dangerous it could be for her not to make this run,” Walker said. “We’re not sure and we can’t prove if it was a verbal or physical altercation.”

Walker said Latham left the house after the shooting and hid the weapon. Police found the gun in a car parked across the street.

McCary said Latham called 911 after the shooting and flagged down authorities from the street to get assistance.

Last year, Latham told police, he was “dry firing” the gun toward Throckmorton when she was shot in the abdomen.

Latham also told police he had unloaded the firearm and was just playing around with it, according to an affidavit in the court documents.

The shooting occurred at 222 E. High St., a residence Throckmorton shared with her mother, Deborah Throckmorton.

Throckmorton’s parents and sister addressed the court on Friday and spoke of how they missed Tiffany and how Latham’s actions had torn apart their family.

Deborah Throckmorton said Latham had dismembered her family.

“You expect your youngest chld to take you further into the future, to have children … to have grandchildren. That opportunity is lost forever,” Deborah Throckmorton said.