By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Evidence from police investigations, including articles of clothing, dominated Tuesday’s testimony in the trial of Randall Jones.
The state is expected to end its case today at which time, the defense will begin presenting witnesses.
Jones is on trial for the murder of Shirley Pacheco on July 9, 2011, in which he killed Pacheco with at least 11 blows from a claw hammer, as attorneys for both the prosecution and defense agree.
The trial is being held in the Tenth Judicial District Court with Ninth Judicial District Judge Stephen Quinn presiding.
Testimony in the trial began May 13 after jury selection was completed the previous day.
Defense attorneys Michael Rosenfield and David James stated that they will show that Jones was surprised by an angry reaction from Pacheco and because he was under the influence of methamphetamines, Jones acted in the spur of the moment. Proving this version of events would make Jones guilty of second-degree murder.
Tenth Judicial District Attorney Tim Rose and Kirk Chavez, assistant district attorney, made a case over the course of last week and part of this week that Jones planned the attack and committed it along with burglary and theft, which would make the offense a more serious first-degree murder charge.
In Monday’s testimonies, jurors heard a taped interview with a key witness, Orlando Martinez, during a preliminary hearing in the case. Martinez refused to testify in person during the trial.
In the preliminary hearing, Martinez admitted to hearing Jones talk about robbing Pacheco on several occasions before the slaying.
In addition, Martinez admitted to helping Jones find a change of clothes after the murder and to wiping down Pacheco’s truck to obscure fingerprints. Martinez further described how he and Jones went to visit Dennis “D.J.” Hendren, where they dropped off a firearm that Jones took from the Pacheco home and left a plastic trash bag containing the clothes Jones wore when he committed the murder. Hendren then apparently dumped the bag somewhere along Airport Road east of the city, where it was later found.
Jurors also heard evidence from state police investigators Patrick Bucksath and Kevin Massis related to blood spatters found both in Pacheco’s truck, which Jones apparently drove to the east side of Tucumcari from Pacheco’s home west of town, and in Pacheco’s carport, where her body was found.
According to autopsy evidence, the hammer’s impact was enough to penetrate Pacheco’s skull in several places, and she died as a result of bleeding into the brain. There was also evidence of impact on Pacheco’s back, which, physicians said, could have been caused by numerous blows from an instrument like a hammer.
Testimony on Thursday and Friday focused on examinations of evidence and state police testimony on how the evidence was located and collected. Scientists said they found evidence of Jones’ DNA on the inside and Pacheco’s blood on the outside of clothes found in a trash bag along Airport Road. In addition, they found evidence that the soles on a pair of shoes found in the trash bag that Jones had apparently worn had been duct-taped. The shoes also included Pacheco’s blood on the outside and Jones’ DNA inside.
Also found in the trash bag was a backpack that had apparently belonged to Pacheco. A baseball cap that showed cut marks and bloodstains was found under Pacheco’s body.
Bucksath testified about interviews with witnesses that led police to look for the trash bag on Airport Road, as well as where to find two firearms that apparently had been stolen from Pacheco’s residence.
A mistrial was averted Thursday when Ninth Judicial District Judge Stephen Quinn said that Chavez’s apparent visit with a potential witness in the case in 2012 did not constitute a breach of legal ethics or a conflict of interest.
Jones’ defense attorney, Michael Rosenfield, moved for a mistrial after Orlando Martinez said that Chavez, who was then in private law practice, visited him while Martinez was in jail in 2012 and even discussed fees.
Evidence presented Friday outside of the jury’s presence seemed to show that Chavez’s visit would have occurred in March 2012, and that he would have spent only a few minutes at most with Martinez. Further, the fee quoted by Martinez would have been grossly inaccurate, the attorneys agreed.
Chavez became an assistant district attorney in the Tenth District in April 2013. Quinn said that since at least a year had passed between Chavez’s visit with Martinez and his employment as an assistant DA, there was no breach of ethics or conflict of interest in the case and allowed the Jones trial to continue.
According to the opening statement from Tenth Judicial District Attorney Tim Rose, prosecution is trying to show that Pacheco’s slaying was pre-meditated and that it was committed during the commission of other felonies, which would make the charge first-degree murder.
Rosenfield seeks to show that Jones was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the slaying and that he killed Pacheco in reaction to hostility from Pacheco, which would reduce the charge to second-degree murder.