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Contreras held without bond in second deadly shooting


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A man already being held without bond in one fatal shooting will remain in custody pending trial on charges in another homicide.

Jeffrey Contreras (Submitted Photo)6

Judge Dustin K. Hunter of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court on Tuesday granted a motion by the Office of the District Attorney to keep Jeffrey Contreras, 25, in pretrial detention while he awaits trial on charges in the death of Johnny Pacheco Jr., 23, of Roswell.

Contreras faces counts of first-degree murder, willful and deliberate; kidnapping, first-degree, no intent to commit sexual offense; robbery; tampering with evidence; and aggravated assault in the death of Pacheco. Pacheco was found dead from a gunshot wound in the early morning hours of Jan. 22 in an open field near the intersection of YO and Lupton roads.

Hunter said the heinous nature of the alleged crimes, concerns over the safety of possible witnesses in the case and the defendant’s long history of failing to comply with court orders led the court to believe no conditions of release imposed on Contreras would ensure the safety of the public. He cited as a particular concern allegations Contreras possessed a firearm despite being barred from doing so as a convicted felon.

“The intent typically of having a firearm most of the time is to use that firearm,” Hunter said.

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Contreras is already being detained while awaiting trial on charges of first-degree murder, willful and deliberate; tampering with evidence; and receipt, possession and transportation of a firearm or destructive device by a felon, in connection with the death of Anthony Vasquez, 57, of Roswell.

Hunter on Feb. 25 granted a similar motion in that case to hold Contreras in pretrial detention. Vasquez was shot to death Feb. 5 in the 600 block of South Missouri Avenue while in an RV trailer where he resided.

On Tuesday, Freeman Faust, Contreras’ attorney, said the evidence asserting that his client presented a threat did not meet the threshold of being clear and convincing, a requirement for holding an individual in pretrial detention.

Accounts that implicated Contreras in Pacheco or Vasquez’s death, Faust said, lacked credibility because many of them were from individuals who had substance abuse issues, face possible criminal sentences of their own and might have a motive to implicate Contreras.

Hunter, when announcing his decision, said while the testimony of individuals could be attacked, the large number of witnesses that came forward and supported the version of events put forward by the prosecution convinces the court the evidence they provided is strong.

In arguing for Contreras being held in pretrial detention, Emily Fry, chief deputy district attorney for Chaves County, said that if released, the prosecution would have significant concern about the well-being of possible witnesses. She noted that before he was shot to death, Vasquez had been a person of interest and possible witness in the shooting of Pacheco.

The prosecution had called three witnesses to testify at Tuesday’s hearing: Agustin Perez, detective with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office; Gino Basile, detective with the Roswell Police Department; and Jesse Lack, of the Adult Probation and Parole Division of the New Mexico Corrections Department, who had been Contreras’ probation officer.

Faust and the defense did not call any witnesses to the stand.

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

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