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Hung jury declared in murder trial

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Following a four-day trial, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in a trial for a man accused in a 15-year-old Roswell murder case.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict Friday as to whether Juan Olivares Jr. was guilty or not guilty on one count of first degree murder, willful and deliberate, in the 2004 murder of Jonathan Ledesma, 22.

Matthew Stone, an assistant district attorney with the Chaves County District Attorney’s office and one of the prosecutors in the case, said the jury returned hours after the prosecution and defense made their closing arguments as a hung jury, unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

J. Michael Thomas, also a prosecutor in the case, said the state can next move to retry Olivares with a new jury, or elect not to proceed by filing a nolle prosequi, a dismissal of charges.

He said the prosecution is not sure what their next step will be.

“In this case we’ll be meeting with the case agents and victim’s family to discuss our options,” Thomas said Monday.

A docket call has been scheduled for 9 a.m. April 22 at the Chaves County Courthouse, when the court will learn how the prosecution plans to move forward.

The prosecution alleged that Olivares, 35, shot Ledesma on Feb. 21, 2004 in an alley in the 300 block of East Hervey Street shortly before 1 a.m. He then is alleged to have inflicted a gun shot wound on himself as part of a fabricated story that a shooter waited in an alley and opened fire on Ledesma and Olivares, according to the prosecution.

Ledesma at the time of his death was wanted by police in connection with the murder of Mario Montantez, 18, days earlier.

Olivares’ defense maintains the defendant did not shoot and then stab Ledesma and insisted that a shadowy figure waiting for Olivares as they walked through the alley opened fire, killing Ledesma and wounding Olivares.

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