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Jury convicts Lake Arthur man accused in 1995 murder


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A man accused of a murder that happened more than 20 years ago in Chaves County who was found last year living under an alias in Texas, was convicted by a jury for first-degree murder Wednesday.

Fransisco Martinez Jr., 40, a former Lake Arthur resident, was convicted of first-degree murder in the Oct. 15, 1995 shooting of Leobardo Loya at a horse race in Chaves County, according to a press release from the office of the district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District, which includes Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties.

Martinez, who was 17 at the time of the murder, was convicted as a serious youthful offender and could receive an adult sentence of life in prison.

After receiving the verdict, the Honorable Judge James Hudson ordered that Martinez attend a 60-day diagnostic evaluation through the Department of Corrections, the release states.

A status hearing is set for Dec. 17 and a sentencing hearing at a date that has not yet been scheduled.

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Martinez turned up in El Paso, Texas under the name Rafael Rodriguez in March 2017. An unrelated warrant for family violence and burglary of habitation charge had been issued for Martinez under the Rodriquez alias at the time, according to a story in the El Paso Times published shortly after Martinez’s capture.

Martinez, under the Rodriquez name then, surrendered himself to El Paso Police on the family violence and burglary warrant, according to the story.

After he was booked by police, his true identity was discovered and he was later extradited to Chaves County for trial.

Loya’s brother — who witnessed the killing — and Martinez’s former girlfriend, who he told in 1995 that he had committed the murder — were among the witnesses called by the prosecution during the trial.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.