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Man changes plea, sentenced on bribery charges

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A man pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of bribery of a witness and escaping or attempting to escape from the custody of a peace officer.

Javier Ward, 32, of Roswell pleaded guilty on both criminal counts at a change of plea hearing in 5th Judicial District Court in Roswell. He previously pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Judge Dustin Hunter sentenced Ward to 12 and a half years in the Department of Corrections followed by two years parole. Ward will be required to serve eight years incarcerated and the remaining four suspended, to be served on supervised probation, all to be served consecutively.

Ward will also have to complete the ASPEN alternative sentencing program, drug and alcohol screening and have no contact with the victims in the case. He has 165 days of credit for time served.

As part of the plea deal, a 2017 aggravated battery charge in another case and an additional charge of resisting, evading or obstructing a peace officer were both dismissed. Imad Awad, assistant district attorney for Chaves County, also said the state would not file charges for a felon in possession of a firearm.

The charges against Ward stem in part from him trying to convince the victim in the 2017 aggravated battery case not to testify against him at a preliminary examination in Chaves County Magistrate Court. A statement of probable cause in the case listed five calls Ward made while incarcerated in the lead up to the Magistrate Court hearing where Ward attempted to either convince the victim not to testify at the Dec. 20, 2017 hearing, to give false statements in her testimony or to deliver that message through other people.

In a December 7, 2017 call, Ward instructed the victim to say in her testimony at the Dec. 20 hearing that nothing had happened and said he could get her $134 that she needed to pay for her probation to end.

Ward was also charged with escape from custody of a peace officer, a charge that originated from a March 3 incident when deputies conducted a warrant service at Ward’s residence.

Before Hunter imposed the sentence, Ward said he was sorry for his actions and said he wants to change his life and that he will work to obtain his GED during his rehabilitation.

“I can’t change the past but I can change the future as it comes,” Ward said.

Hunter said he hopes Ward is successful in his efforts at rehabilitation, but noted Ward had a long criminal history as well as a history of failing to comply with terms of both probation and the courts, something that Hunter said causes him concern.

He said that though the court wants the best for Ward, the safety of the community must also be taken into consideration.

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