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Stabbing case bound over to District Court

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The case against a man who allegedly stabbed to death one of his housemates and injured another will move forward to New Mexico 5th Judicial District Court following a preliminary examination in Chaves County Magistrate Court.

E.J. Fouratt, magistrate judge, ruled at the Oct. 21 hearing that  there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that Julio Franco Ceaser Sanchez, 31, committed that crime. The case will be bound over to District Court for trial.

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 in connection with an Oct. 6 stabbing.

An affidavit filed in Magistrate Court states that on the night in question Sanchez stabbed to death Joe Bettencourt, 62, at a house on Vineyard Road in Chaves County. Bettencourt, Sanchez and two other males lived together at the residence.

On the night of Oct. 6, Sanchez was allegedly complaining of a stomach ache, when he knocked on Bettencourt’s bedroom door and asked for Bettencourt to take him to the hospital.

When Bettencourt came to the door, Sanchez allegedly stabbed him a total of 10 times — five times in the chest cavity — cut him once on the finger tip and once on the left elbow. Bettencourt also sustained what the affidavit referred to as three “superficial” wounds.

The two other men who resided in the house then allegedly approached Sanchez and tried to get him to stop stabbing Bettencourt. One of the men was then allegedly stabbed in the back. According to the affidavit, both men later fled from the house.

The man who was stabbed in the back then ran to a house located at the Sideway Dairy, where the men worked, to get help.

Bettencourt was dead in the hallway of the house when Hagerman police and Chaves County deputies arrived, and Sanchez could not be found.

A few days later, Sanchez was arrested at Church’s Chicken on North Main Street after a customer at the restaurant saw a man he thought resembled a photo of Sanchez that the Sheriff’s Office posted on their Facebook page.

Sanchez was then detained without incident, according to the affidavit.

At an Oct. 17 hearing, a detective with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office who investigated the case stated no weapon had been found and no motive was yet established in the case.

A motion was later made by the Chaves County District Attorney’s Office for Sanchez to remain incarcerated without bond until trial. The motion was later granted by District Judge Dustin Hunter.

In announcing his decision to grant the motion at the Oct. 17 hearing, Hunter said the state, through clear and convincing evidence, demonstrated that Sanchez presents a clear and present danger and no conditions of release could reasonably ensure the safety of the community.

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