By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
A jury convicted Tucumcari resident Randall Jones, 23, of first-degree murder Thursday in the July 9, 2011, slaying of Shirley Pacheco of Tucumcari.
The jury deliberated for about three hours after two weeks of testimony in the case, which was held in Tenth Judicial District Court with Ninth Judicial District Judge Stephen Quinn presiding. Quinn did not set a date for sentencing. Jones will receive 60 days of evaluation at a New Mexico Department of Corrections facility in Los Lunas before sentencing occurs, he said.
Tenth Judicial District Attorney Tim Rose said the mandatory sentence for willful, deliberate murder, the first-degree murder charge on which Jones was convicted, is life imprisonment with eligibility for parole in about 30 years.
In addition, Rose said, Jones was convicted on associated counts in the case, which included aggravated burglary, auto theft and tampering with evidence among others.
Rose said he was gratified that Pacheco’s family saw justice done in the case.
“Shirley got justice. Mr. Jones was held accountable,” he said.
A.J. Pacheco, Shirley Pacheco’s nephew, said he was “very happy” with the verdict.
“Tim and Kirk (Assistant District Attorney Kirk Chavez) did an amazing job.”
Melissa Pacheco, Shirley Pacheco’s sister-in-law, said, “We are very excited with the verdict. We’re happy and relieved. Justice was served.”
Michael Rosenfield, Jones’ attorney, said, “The jury was very attentive and carefully reached the verdict they thought was justified by the evidence.”
He added, “We don’t question verdicts.”
Thursday’s verdict followed closing arguments from Chavez and Rosenfield.
Chavez said the evidence showed Jones clearly intended to hurt Pacheco and said the timing of the intent was not important. The intent, he said, is proven by the fact that after Jones had apparently delivered five blows to Pacheco’s head with a claw hammer and left her for a time. He returned to where she lay and delivered six more blows. The second set of blows, he said, is what proves intent.
In his closing arguments, Rosenfield said testimony from Dr. Eric Westfried, a psychologist who examined Jones, established methamphetamine use can create paranoia and unpredictable behavior. He said the testimony should convince the jurors that Jones was not capable of willful intent, because he was intoxicated on methamphetamine at the time. In addition, he said, Jones had said he had been up for 18 days straight before the murder because of methamphetamine use.
In rebuttal, however, Chavez pointed out that there were no signs that Jones had used enough methamphetamine to be incapable of willful intent, and testimony during the trial had placed Jones sleeping in a house the night before the murder.
After the trial, Rose said this was a “sad case, all around.”
“I’m sad for the Pachecos,” he said, “but I also feel bad for the Jones family. They’re good people.”
He said the case also showed how methamphetamine use and other substance abuse can lead to other crimes and why efforts should continue to eliminate meth and other illicit drugs in Quay County.