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Recently disclosed evidence delays 2014 murder trial; Co-defendant bound into district court Tuesday with principal charge


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Both suspects connected to the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Joe Anthony Garza in December 2014 are in Chaves County’s district court.


Louie Joseph Archuleta, who was arrested in 2015, has remained in custody at the Chaves County jail, awaiting his trial, which was scheduled to begin Wednesday.
Frank Anthony Montoya, also arrested in 2015 on murder and conspiracy charges, was released from jail in September 2015 after a magistrate judge ruled there was insufficient probable cause to proceed with his trial. Montoya was charged again in late May in connection with Garza’s death.
It is believed new evidence that includes cellphone records are a significant factor to the re-arrest of Montoya two months ago and the reason for the delay in Archuleta’s trial.
“(Montoya) had his first hearing (Tuesday,) the preliminary hearing is the first hearing where the state has to show evidence that somebody probably committed the crime,” explained prosecutor J. Michael Thomas. “That happens in magistrate court, and that happened (Tuesday).”


Thomas said a magistrate judge bound Montoya over to district court on a charge of accessory to commit first-degree murder, a principal charge in his case.
“It’s the same responsibility as somebody who committed it themself,” he said. “His charges were, I guess, awaiting refiling for additional evidence, and that evidence came along actually that was including cellphone records, I believe that might have been it.”
Archuleta’s defense lawyer, Todd A. Holmes, said his client was prepared to begin his case.
“As far as (Wednesday), Louie was ready to go to trial,” Holmes said. “However, late last night, I checked the disclosure system, and I found a lot of things that were disclosed late. The rules of evidence say you’ve got to disclose things at least 10 days before trial.”
Holmes said the incoming information about the case he came across Tuesday night included about five police reports and an email between the FBI and AT&T.
Thomas said the case against Archuleta is evolving as new evidence becomes available.
“The judge gave the defense time to look into what they need to, and I’m sure I can get more done on the case in the meantime too,” Thomas said. “I know that the defense claimed information that they had only learned of in the recent weeks and we’ve had a continuing duty to disclose information as we learn about more information including police reports that are incidental to, or a part of, but not the primary report.”

Holmes mentioned how long Archuleta has been waiting for his case to be tried.
“It’s unfortunate because, you know — Louie’s been in jail for almost two years now, and he’s been anxiously awaiting to get to trial,” Holmes said.
Archuleta was not the only one burdened. Although not on purpose, more than 60 potential jurors were dismissed Wednesday by District Judge Freddie Romero after about a 45-minute wait at the Chaves County Courthouse.
“That was a huge inconvenience for the local jurors to show up and then get dismissed, but it was due to the late disclosure,” Holmes said. “I don’t think the state was intentionally trying to like hide things, and then disclose late to catch us off-guard: I think they were getting the disclosures late as they’re getting ready for the case, and so the judge allowed a continuance of the trial to address some of those concerns.”
Thomas said on July 27, a new trial date will be announced.
“I don’t know when it all gets set again,” Thomas said. “It could be within weeks, or the defense may need some more time — it could be several months, so we’ll find out new stuff (next) Thursday.”
Whenever the new trial date does come, Thomas anticipates it will be a three-day trial.
Holmes said it will be a jury trial for sure.
Archuleta and Montoya are charged with conspiring to kill Joe Anthony Garza.
Garza was riding his bike before he was shot multiple times times in his torso, arms and legs. The 32-year old died at the scene.
A Roswell Police Department officer responding to a 911 call around 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 2014, found Garza’s body near the intersection of East Tilden Street and South Mulberry Avenue. Police said witnesses saw a vehicle leaving the scene following the shooting.
Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.


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