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Suspect in 2018 homicide held without bond

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One of two suspects recently charged in a nearly three-year-old homicide investigation will remain held without bond following a local judge’s ruling.

Paisley Terry (Submitted Photo)

Judge Thomas Lilley of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court on Tuesday granted a motion by the District Attorney’s Office for the pretrial detention of Paisley Terry, 40, of Roswell. As a result, she will remain in custody until the conclusion of her eventual trial or upon further order of the court.

Terry and Manuel Veleta, 28, of Roswell, are both charged in connection with the March 8, 2018 death of Garland Troy Berg, 50, of Roswell. According to court documents, Terry and Veleta are each charged on criminal counts of first-degree murder, willful and deliberate; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; tampering with evidence; and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Court documents state Terry also faces one count each of kidnapping and aggravated battery in the case.

Lilley, in granting the motion, stated the prosecution met the required burden of proof for pretrial detention and the court concluded no conditions of release could be imposed on Terry that would reasonably ensure the safety of the public.

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Emily Fry, deputy district attorney, in her closing argument, cited the gruesome and premeditated nature of the crime and Terry’s failure to comply with conditions of release and probation in other cases as reasons for her to remain in custody.

Lilley added that he was also concerned about alleged remarks Terry made in connection with another death, unrelated to the case, in a recording that was entered into evidence.

“All of that is concerning,” Lilley said.

Marie Legrande Miller, Terry’s attorney, said Terry in recent days had been sentenced to at least a year in prison on a probation violation allegation in an unrelated case. As a result, Miller said she could not make any argument related to conditions of release.

Augusta Perez, a detective with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, was the lone witness called by the prosecution during the hearing.

Under questioning by Fry, Perez said that on March 8, 2018, dispatch received a call from a man on U.S. 285 north who had reported witnessing a fatal shooting earlier that day.

When the witness was brought to the sheriff’s office, Perez said he questioned the individual who said he had seen another man — later identified as Berg — shot to death in the living room of a trailer house in the 6500 block of Old Dexter Highway in Midway at about 3 a.m.

The witness, Perez stated, implicated Terry and Veleta in the death of Berg. The witness had said that before the shooting, Terry had driven Berg to the Old Dexter Highway residence where Terry lived.

Perez testified the witness told him that he allegedly saw Terry stab Berg once in the chest with a knife, injuring him. The witness added that he was then handed a knife and allegedly told to stab Berg should he try to escape.

According to Perez, the witness said Terry and another man left the house before later returning with Veleta.

When Terry returned, she was accompanied by Veleta. Perez said the witness said shortly after arriving back at the house, Terry handed Veleta a .22 caliber rifle. The witness also said a plastic bottle was placed on the end of the barrel to muffle the sound of the gunshot.

The witness then alleged Veleta shot Berg once in the head.

Later, the witness told investigators he was allegedly forced to help Terry and Veleta cover Berg’s body in a plastic tarp, shower curtain and a blanket.

Perez testified that the witness, Veleta and Terry then allegedly transported the body out of the house and placed it in a vehicle on the property.

When the body was placed in the vehicle, the witness said Terry and Veleta went to Veleta’s house.

Perez said that after questioning the alleged witness, he later went to the Old Dexter Highway residence, where Berg’s body was found in a vehicle on the property wrapped in plastic, a shower curtain and a blanket.

Further evidence was also found inside the house. Perez said that evidence included blood that matched Berg’s and a melted plastic bottle with a bullet fragment in it.

A wheelbarrow with blood matching that of the victim was found behind the vehicle where the body had been placed, something consistent with the account of the witness, who claimed the wheelbarrow was used to transport the body to the vehicle.

Perez also testified about other evidence not found at the scene. He said at least one other man claimed to have been at the house and allegedly saw Terry stab Berg. However, the man said he left the house after Berg was stabbed but before any shooting had happened.

Another man also brought a video recording to the sheriff’s office of Terry allegedly talking about Berg’s death and that she had played a role in it.

When later interviewed by investigators, Perez said Terry denied involvement in the death of Berg and claimed to have last seen Veleta days before Berg was killed.

Perez said when Veleta was contacted by investigators and questioned, he refused to give a statement.

Miller in her questioning concentrated on the video recording, in which Perez admitted Terry could be heard but not seen.

He also said the recording contradicted some facts about Berg’s death that were determined by the autopsy. For example, Perez said Terry had said in the recording that Berg died after being stabbed and that he was shot after he was already dead.

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