By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Hours after he killed Shirley Pacheco with up to 11 blows from a claw hammer, Randall Jones was smoking methamphetamine with friends at a home in Tucumcari, and apparently acting as if nothing unusual had happened.
That was the testimony of several witnesses who recounted memories from the day and night of July 9, 2011, when, prosecutors and defense attorneys agree, Jones took Shirley Pacheco’s life.
Tenth Judicial District Attorney Tim Rose and Assistant District Attorney Kirk Chavez called witnesses Tuesday and Wednesday to reconstruct the events before and after the slaying. They expect another five days of testimony before the prosecution rests its case, Rose said.
The trial is expected to take two weeks, until May 23. It is being held in Tenth Judicial District Court with Ninth Judicial District Judge Stephen Quinn presiding.
According to opening statements, Rose and Chavez expect to prove Jones planned the attack that killed Pacheco, and that he also committed burglary in the process, which would constitute felony murder. In both cases, they said, a finding of first-degree murder would be warranted.
Defense attorneys Michael Rosenfield and David James, according to Rosenfield’s opening remarks, will try to show that Pacheco’s slaying was not planned and that Jones was intoxicated when he killed Pacheco. These situations, they said, would reduce the charge to second-degree murder.
In testimony , two girls remembered being with Pacheco when she picked up Jones as they ran errands in Tucumcari. Jones had called Pacheco to offer her some stereo speakers for her pickup truck, they said
When they picked up Jones, he was acting somewhat unpleasant, both Feliciana Lovato and Erika Tafoya said. The girls were then dropped off at locations in Tucumcari, leaving Jones and Pacheco in the pickup, and the two drove off. Pacheco was going to call the girls later so they could get together and party, but that call never came, both said.
Christina Pacheco, Shirley Pacheco’s mother, had taken Melissa Pacheco and her son to Amarillo that day so her son could get a haircut. Shirley lived with her mother. When Christina, Melissa and her son arrived home that night, they found Shirley Pacheco’s body and saw that the house was in disarray. Her memory of whether a bag in which she kept cash was misplaced was dim, she said.“I had lost my daughter,” she said.
A few days earlier, Clayton Martinez, who is undergoing rehabilitation for meth addiction, said he remembered Jones telling him that Jones intended to murder Shirley Pacheco, because she was a “snitch,” meaning she had turned in some meth users to police. Other meth-using witnesses confirmed that Pacheco had that reputation, and one said she had turned three people in.
On the witness stand, however, none could remember specific names of persons Pacheco was alleged to have turned over to police.
A.J. Pacheco, Pacheco’s nephew, recalled that a few days before Shirley Pacheco died, he was present when she and Jones had argued about some other stereo speakers. The nephew said Jones and Pacheco were both angry.
On the night before Jones killed Pacheco, according to testimony, Jones had slept in the living room in the home of Rudy and Jennifer Urioste, along with other friends. The same group was sleeping in the Urioste home on the night of July 9.
On that night, according to Amanda Romero, who was with Orlando “Nano” Martinez, remembers that Jones awakened Martinez.
“He (Jones) looked really scared,” Romero said. After that, she said, Martinez and Jones went to the kitchen. Others in the house were awakened. Then, she said, Martinez and Jones left the home.
Both of the Uriostes remember being awakened and aware that something had happened. Jones, they said, used their shower and they were asked to find clothes for him. After that, they said, Jones left.
A few hours later, they went over to another house, where they encountered Jones and others. All smoked meth, they said, then the Uriostes returned home.
Juanita Trujillo remembers receiving a phone call from Nano Martinez asking her to pick him up that night. Trujillo said she drove to pick up Martinez, Jones was with him. Jones sat in the back seat, she said. Trujillo asked Jones what was going on.
“I did it,” she remembers Jones telling her. She said she pressed Jones for details, but he didn’t offer any. Trujillo then drove the pair to a trailer park, where Martinez walked toward a pickup truck parked there. He returned a few minutes later, carrying a rag, saying he had wiped the truck down.
She then drove the pair to Second Street and went to visit another friend. Later, she was summoned again, she said, to pick up the pair on Second Street. They drove to Martinez’s grandparents home on Ninth Street, where Trujillo said she dropped Martinez off , then picked him up on the other side of the alley.
Trujillo said she made several other shuttle runs to transport Jones and others to different locations that night, until they were stopped at about 3 a.m. by state police, who said they were investigating a homicide. Trujillo said that was when she learned of Shirley Pacheco’s murder.
After questioning occupants of the car, police let the group go.
Jones was arrested the following morning.
Orlando Martinez was scheduled to testify, but said he would refuse to answer questions and invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Quinn said he did not think self-incrimination would apply in the current case, in which Martinez is already serving time for tampering with evidence, but may apply to federal charges. Quinn contacted Michael Aragon, a Las Vegas attorney who had advised Martinez at his sentencing, to counsel Martinez in the present situation.
Martinez’s brother, Chris Martinez, who apparently was in the group that was staying at the Urioste home on the night of July 9, refused to answer questions and was found in contempt of court, adding another six months to a sentence he is already serving. The contempt citation, Stephens told Chris Martinez, would be canceled if Martinez changes his mind.