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Detention hearing set for suspect in fatal shooting

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A suspect in a recent fatal shooting who was arrested Friday night will remain in custody at least until he appears for a pretrial detention hearing later this week.

Manuel Villarreal (Submitted Photo)

Electronic court records state the District Attorney’s Office for New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court Monday filed a motion for the pretrial detention of Manuel Villarreal, 36, of Roswell, for which a hearing is scheduled for Friday in District Court in Chaves County.

Should a district judge determine through clear and convincing evidence presented by the state that Villarreal presents a danger to the safety of any person or the community — and that no conditions of release imposed can reasonably ensure their safety — then Villarreal would remain held without bond up through an eventual trial.

Villarreal faces one count each of first degree murder, willful and deliberate; bribery or intimidation of a witness, retaliation against a witness; and firearms or destructive devices, receipt, transportation or possession by a felon. The charges stem from the Nov. 20 shooting death of John Halfmann, 43, at about 4 a.m. in a shed behind a 700 block of Fifth Avenue residence.

Police were called to the shed in reference to an unknown medical call, where Halfmann was found slumped over a guitar with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head. Medics later came and pronounced Halfmann dead on the scene.

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The reporting party said that Villarreal and another individual had come over to the shed to visit Halfmann and the reporting party before the shooting.

He said that while all four were in the shed, he suddenly heard a loud noise and when he looked over saw Halfmann slumped over his guitar. The reporting party, according to court documents, was not sure the sound was a gunshot.

Court documents state Villarreal then kicked Halfmann in the back of the head, turned around, pointed at the reporting party and said: “What about you? If you talk, you’re next.” Villarreal and the other visitor then left.

The reporting party did not know who Villarreal was at first but later identified him by selecting photos of both Villarreal and the man who accompanied him from a photo array.

Police initially announced Villarreal was wanted for questioning in Halfmann’s death. On Friday a warrant had been obtained for his arrest.

Hours later, Villarreal was located and taken into custody at 11 p.m. at a 900 block of North Beech Street residence.

No attorney for Villarreal was named in court records as of Tuesday, however it is stated that he is being represented by the Law Offices of the Public Defender-State of New Mexico’s office in Roswell.

Electronic court records state Villarreal has a lengthy criminal record at least as far back as 2004, including charges of burglary, commercial or automobile; possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon; unlawful taking of a motor vehicle; aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer; possession of a controlled substance and concealing identity.

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