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Eddy County murder conviction upheld by Supreme Court; Man who impersonated drug task force and killed drug dealer to remain in prison

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Mendoza

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The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the life prison sentence of a Carlsbad man convicted of robbing and killing a man in his own home in Artesia during a fake drug raid in 2012.

Attorney General Hector Balderas announced on Monday that the Supreme Court agreed with the Office of the Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Division and affirmed Senovio Mendoza’s first-degree murder and armed robbery convictions in February 2016.

Mendoza was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of Timothy Wallace, a drug dealer who owed Mendoza money.

The Office of the Attorney General’s communications director said in a news release that in January 2012, Mendoza was smoking methamphetamine as he drove from his home in Carlsbad to Artesia with two other men. It was then when the group arranged a plan to steal from Timothy Wallace.

“Mendoza concocted an armed robbery plan whereby the men bought knit caps from Wal-Mart and then stormed Wallace’s house proclaiming to be the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force,” the Attorney General’s office wrote. “Mendoza’s co-defendant shot Wallace to death in his own home and then they robbed him.”

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Co-defendant Donald Ybarra pleaded guilty in the case. The other co-defendant, Matthew Sloan, awaits a retrial after his murder conviction was overturned by the state high court in 2016.

According to Ybarra’s testimony, Mendoza got the other two men to accompany him to Wallace’s home to collect money owed Mendoza by Wallace.

In 2016, Mendoza appealed his convictions in Fifth Judicial District Court, claiming the state provided insufficient evidence that he possessed the intention of wrongdoing required for a felony-murder conviction.

Mendoza also challenged the expert status of a bloodstain witness who testified in the case. The Supreme Court rejected both challenges and affirmed the convictions.

Balderas said maintaining safety for New Mexico residents is one of the office’s primary concerns.

“Keeping the most dangerous, violent offenders in New Mexico behind bars is our priority,” Balderas said. “I’m thankful for the work of our law enforcement partners in Eddy County.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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