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Homicide suspect to remain in custody pending trial

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A man charged with first-degree murder who turned himself over to police Friday will be held without bond and remain in custody pending trial.

Jorge Luis Villa

Judge Thomas Lilley of the Fifth Judicial District granted the prosecution’s expedited motion for pretrial detention of Jorge Luis Villa, 25, of Roswell at a hearing Tuesday.

In making his decision to grant the motion, Lilley said he is not sure any conditions could keep the community safe if Villa was released on bail while awaiting trial.

Villa is charged with first-degree murder in the July 15 shooting death of Johnathan Carter, 27, of Roswell, who was shot in an alley near the intersection of South Richardson Avenue and West McGaffey Street. He also faces a charge of felon in possession of a firearm.

Court documents state Carter and some friends met up in the alley with Villa and his girlfriend, Nicole Sena, 36, of Roswell, because Sena wanted to buy a purse from one of Carter’s friends. When Carter exited the vehicle, an affidavit filed by Roswell police states, Villa shot Carter twice — once in the stomach and once in the left leg.

Carter’s friends then drove him to Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, where he later died from his wounds.

A warrant was later issued for Villa’s arrest. Villa and Sena — who police had named as a person of interest in the case — turned themselves over to Chaves County deputies Friday.

In arguing for Lilley to grant the motion for pretrial detention, Matthew Stone, of the Chaves County District Attorney’s office, pointed to Villa’s criminal record and what he said was a history of failing to abide by conditions of release.

Stone noted that Villa has failed to show up for court appearances in other cases and that by being in possession of a firearm, he had violated conditions of release in another pending case.

Conditions of release would also not ensure the safety of eyewitnesses, Stone said.

Craig Acorn, an attorney representing Villa, asked the judge to deny the motion made by the prosecution. He said any suggestion Villa represented a danger to the community was based only on speculation.

He added Villa turned himself over to deputies, and had he wanted to retaliate against eyewitnesses, Villa would have had plenty of time to do so during the four days he was being sought by police.

Villa did not enter a formal plea in court Tuesday, however Acorn did dispute the version of events presented by the prosecution and detectives.

He alleged that one of the people who had driven with Carter to the alley where the shooting happened walked up to Villa — who was sitting in a Grand Am right before the shooting — threw a gun in Villa’s lap and told him “take care of this.”

Acorn said Carter, who had a negative history with Villa, then walked toward Villa while carrying a gun. Acorn said Villa then used the gun that had been handed to him to shoot Carter in self defense.

Stone responded that no gun was found on Carter, and that no eyewitnesses at the scene other than Villa said that the shooting was in self defense.

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