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Jury delivers not-guilty verdict in 2014 murder

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A jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all three charges against Tomas Vincent Aguilar-Sanchez Friday in connection with a high-profile 2014 murder.

Aguilar-Sanchez was found not guilty of first-degree murder, willful or deliberate; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, willful or deliberate; and tampering with evidence in the murder of Fabian Ward Jr.

The verdict was reached following a four-day trial in the Fifth Judicial Court that began Tuesday, and an hour after the prosecution and defense completed their closing arguments to the jury.

Ward, 24, was found dead, shot multiple times, Monday Dec. 1, 2014 at the intersection of No Name and Phoenix Roads in Midway at about 5:30 a.m.

Aguilar-Sanchez’s nephews Angel and Domingo Martinez in 2015 faced murder charges in the death of Ward. However, the charges were later dismissed after a key witness changed testimony during an April 2015 preliminary hearing in Chaves County Magistrate Court.

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The prosecution last week argued that Aguilar-Sanchez witnessed the murder, knew of the intention to kill Ward, assisted in the preparation for it and helped destroy evidence.

Facebook instant messages sent by Aguilar-Sanchez and Angel Martinez the day before the murder, asking Ward to hang out with them — and security camera footage from the Saturday before the murder, showing Aguilar-Sanchez help Angel Martinez place and take guns out of a white truck — were all presented as evidence.

The prosecution also played three interviews of Aguilar-Sanchez conducted by detectives with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office.

“And so ladies and gentlemen, all of those things show how Tomas [Aguilar-Sanchez] was involved. Every single step, he is there, you can see the coordination, you can see how they got Fabian to be comfortable with this situation, they picked him up, they went out and took him out to kill him,” Matthew Stone, one of the prosecutors on the case, said to jurors in his closing argument.

But Gary Mitchell, the attorney representing Aguilar-Sanchez, said in his closing argument the prosecution failed to show criminal intent on the part of Sanchez, despite his presence at the scene when the murder happened.

Mitchell mentioned that in the recorded interviews with detectives, Aguilar-Sanchez said he liked Ward and did not have any malice towards him.

“He had no desire to see him hurt period,” Mitchell said in his closing argument.

Mitchell also said there was no evidence Aguilar-Sanchez provided assistance or encouragement in the killing of Ward.

“So as we go through this, what is severely lacking in this case, and why you must acquit, is there is no criminal intent to murder, there is no criminal intent to conspire to murder and there is no criminal intent to tamper with evidence on the part of Tomas [Aguilar-Sanchez],” Mitchell said.

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

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