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Supreme Court upholds murder conviction

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The New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday upheld the conviction of Steven Lee Lucero for the 2014 brutal murder of Isaiah Sanchez in Roswell.

Lucero

In their ruling, the five justices agreed with the Criminal Appeals Division of the state’s Office of Attorney General.

In August 2016, Lucero was sentenced by Judge Kea Riggs of the Fifth Judicial District to the maximum prison term, 40 years, plus at least two years of probation to follow incarceration should he receive parole.

Although Lucero was convicted on three counts, state statute required that the third count dealing with the use of a firearm be subsumed by the other counts, felony murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The jury found Lucero not guilty of another count, tampering with evidence.

“Keeping the most violent, dangerous offenders behind bars in New Mexico is our priority,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a released statement. “The defendant’s methodical actions to lure the victim to a house party, brutally beat and stab him and then return to the body to deliver the fatal stab wound demonstrates the extreme danger Lucero posed to the Roswell community.”

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Balderas praised the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Roswell Police Department for the successful prosecution of this case.

Lucero set into motion a methodical plan to rob Sanchez that ended in the cold-blooded murder of the victim and the ultimate theft of a mere $15 from his wallet, Balderas said.

Lucero’s older brother, Gilbert Lucero, also was charged in Sanchez’s murder, but was acquitted on all counts in February 2017.

According to a criminal complaint, the Lucero brothers plotted the killing of Sanchez, who was 30 at the time, because of his involvement with the ex-wife of Steven Lucero.

Authorities said Vanessa Lucero, the ex-wife, lured Sanchez to the former home of Gilbert Lucero in the 1800 block of North Maryland Avenue, where the Lucero brothers were lying in wait and attacked him with a gun and knives.

The Lucero brothers shot and stabbed Sanchez repeatedly, leaving him still breathing face down in a pool of blood in the home’s kitchen, court records state.

Officer Robert Scribner of the Roswell Police Department, who wrote the criminal complaint for both Luceros brothers, said there were several areas of blood on the home’s ceiling.

“(I) observed a very large amount of blood in the kitchen on appliances, kitchen cabinets, walls, ceiling and floor,” Scribner wrote in the criminal complaint, adding the right shoe of Sanchez had been removed after the killing.

The two brothers subsequently stole clothing and jewelry from Sanchez, and also dismantled Sanchez’s pickup truck for parts, including stealing the motor, court records said.

When the Lucero brothers returned to the scene, Steven Lucero realized Sanchez was still alive.

Seeing Sanchez on the floor gasping for air, Steven Lucero remarked with profanities that he’s “still breathing,” the Supreme Court stated in its ruling.

Steven Lucero then asked Vanessa Lucero and another woman to leave, and they did so. The two women waited down the road until Steven Lucero called and said that he and Gilbert Lucero were ready to be picked up. When the women returned, Steven Lucero told Vanessa Lucero that he had stabbed Sanchez again. Steven Lucero took the victim’s wallet, $15 and one of his shoes. The Luceros left and dumped the shoe, weapons and their bloodied clothes into the Pecos River.

In his defense, Steven Lucero claimed there were cumulative errors in the prosecution of his case that should result in a reversal of his convictions.

However, the supreme court stated in its ruling the prosecution’s case was absent of any identifiable error in the record that would support a reversal.

Community News reporter Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or vistas@rdrnews.com.