Home News Local News Stabbing suspect to remain in custody

Stabbing suspect to remain in custody


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A man who allegedly stabbed one of his roommates to death and seriously injured another will remain incarcerated pending trial, following a ruling by a judge Wednesday in 5th Judicial District Court in Chaves County.

Julio Franco Cesar Sanchez (Photo courtesy of the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office)

Judge Dustin Hunter granted the state’s motion by the Chaves County District Attorney’s Office for the pretrial preventative detention of Julio Franco Cesar Sanchez, 31. As a result, Sanchez will remain held without bond up through trial.

In explaining his decision to grant the motion, Hunter said the state, through clear and convincing evidence, demonstrated that Sanchez presents a danger to the community and no conditions of release can reasonably ensure the safety of individuals or the community.

Sarah Jean Grew, assistant district attorney with the Chaves County District Attorney’s Office, in arguing for the motion to be granted, explained Sanchez fled the scene of the crime following the stabbing. She also noted Sanchez lacked family ties in the area or a place to stay while he awaits trial.

The state is also worried about the safety of two witnesses should Sanchez be released, including one who was injured by him, Grew said.

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Elizabeth Caruso, defense attorney for Sanchez, said the evidence her client would be a danger to the community or lacks the ability to comply with conditions of release is speculative. She said the court could instead impose stringent conditions of release on Sanchez that would ensure public safety, such as a mandatory curfew or placing a GPS monitor on his vehicle.

The state called one witness to the stand at the hearing: a detective with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office who was on the scene of the crime the night of the incident in question. No witnesses were called by the defense.

Sanchez is charged with one count of first-degree murder, willful and deliberate, and one count each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The charges stem from an Oct. 6 stabbing at a house on Vineyard Road in Chaves County where Sanchez resided with three other men.

The stabbing resulted in the death of one man, Joe Bettencourt, and serious injury to another man. The injured victim was transported to Artesia General Hospital and later airlifted to Lubbock, Texas for treatment of his wounds.

Sanchez was later arrested Oct. 8 at the Church’s Chicken on 2800 N. Main St. A customer at the restaurant contacted the sheriff’s office, stating that a customer who looked like a man wanted in connection with the Oct. 6 stabbing was at the restaurant. Sanchez was then placed under arrest.

When the detective testified at the hearing, he said he later learned that on the night of the stabbing, Sanchez had gone to the bedroom door of Bettencourt, complaining of feeling ill and asked to be taken to the hospital. When Bettencourt climbed out of bed, he was then attacked by Sanchez.

Bettencourt was stabbed 10 times. One of the other men who lived with Sanchez and Bettencourt was eventually stabbed in the back. The wounded victim and the other roommate then fled the house and ran to a nearby dairy for help, the detective said.

The detective said that information on Sanchez given to them by the owner of Sideways Dairy where Sanchez worked, initially identified him as Armando Joya, the name the sheriff’s office initially released to the public.

However, the detective said witnesses later identified the man as “Julio.” Two forms of identification were also found on Sanchez with his real name, including a Mexico voter identification card.

The detective said a weapon used in the attack on Bettencourt has not yet been found. He added that a motive for the attack has also not yet been determined.

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

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