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Man pleads not guilty to charges in 2018 homicide

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A local man has pleaded not guilty to several criminal counts in a nearly three-year-old homicide.

Manuel Veleta (Submitted Photo)

Manuel Veleta, 28, of Roswell entered a formal plea of not guilty on one count each of first-degree murder, willful and deliberate; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, willful and deliberate; tampering with evidence; and conspiracy to tamper with evidence when he appeared via Google Meet at his Nov. 23 arraignment in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court, according to court documents.

Gregory Gaudette, Veleta’s attorney, also raised the issue of his client’s $10,000 bond at the arraignment, asking Judge Dustin K. Hunter to waive bond and release Veleta on his own recognizance pending trial.

Court documents state Hunter said the bond is an issue that Gaudette would have to have addressed by Judge Thomas Lilley, the judge assigned to the case who had set the bond in October.

Veleta and Paisley Terry, 40, of Roswell were both arrested in September for the 2018 fatal shooting of Garland Troy Berg, 50, of Roswell.

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Terry, who is accused of orchestrating Berg’s death, also faces charges of first-degree murder, willful and deliberate; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, willful and deliberate; tampering with evidence; and conspiracy to tamper with evidence. In addition, she is charged with aggravated battery; and kidnapping, first degree, no intent to commit sexual offense.

Veleta is accused of having shot Berg in the head in the early morning hours of March 8, 2018 in the living room of a trailer house in the 6500 block of Old Dexter Highway in Midway.

After the shooting, court documents state, Veleta, Terry and Terry’s son, Jason Henderson, 21, allegedly wrapped Berg’s body in white plastic, a shower curtain and a blue blanket before placing it in the front seat of a white Chevrolet Malibu parked on the property.

Investigators with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office learned about Berg’s death early the next day from Henderson, who led them to Berg’s body on the Midway property.

Terry, who pleaded not guilty to the charges against her in the case earlier this month, is being detained without bond pending trial.

Henderson, who pleaded no contest to one count of tampering with evidence in the case as part of a plea and disposition agreement, is awaiting sentencing. He is currently being held in relation to an unrelated case.

According to court documents, Hunter at the arraignment scheduled Veleta’s jury trial for May 18, 2021.

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