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Man charged in quintuple homicide given five life sentences

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Alex Ross Photo Juan David Villegas-Hernandez, left, stands next to his attorney Herman Ortiz moments before being given five life sentences Wednesday by Judge Dustin K. Hunter at the Chaves County Courthouse. Villegas-Hernandez was sentenced on five counts of first degree murder, willful and deliberate, for the June 11, 2016 deaths of his wife and four daughters.

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A man charged in the deaths of his wife and four daughters received five life sentences Wednesday at a hearing in Chaves County.
Judge Dustin K. Hunter of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court sentenced 39-year-old Juan David Villegas-Hernandez on five counts of first degree murder, willful and deliberate. The sentences will be served consecutively, or one after another.
The charges against Villegas-Hernandez stemmed from the June 11, 2016 fatal shootings of his wife, 34-year-old Cynthia Villegas, and their daughters Yamilen, 14; Cynthia Janeth, 10; Abby 7; and Ida, 3, in their home at 2503 North Davis Avenue in Roswell.
Hunter, in announcing the sentence, said, “Horror is what occurred to this family.”
Villegas-Hernandez brought his own trial to an end May 13 when he switched his plea from not guilty to no contest on all five counts.
Prosecutors argued that Villegas-Hernandez shot the victims at close range at their North Davis Street home before fleeing to Mexico. He was apprehended by Mexican authorities the next day and later extradited back to the U.S. to face charges.
Villegas-Hernandez was alleged to have shot his wife and daughters after he learned his wife planned to divorce him.
Scot Key, district attorney for New Mexico’s 12th Judicial District and prosecutor in the case, said the only just sentence was five consecutive life sentences.
“A crime for which there is no explanation, no understanding nor acceptance, and a crime for which there cannot be mercy or indifference is this case,” Key said while speaking with portraits of the victims next to him.
The announcement of the sentence marked the conclusion of a highly emotional two-hour proceeding.
Members of the extended family fought back tears while delivering statements in which they described the abuse Cynthia Villegas endured at the hands of her husband, and expressed shock at his acts.
“Why didn’t you think about all the pain you caused all of us, including your family,” Rosa Hernandez, a cousin and friend to Cynthia Villegas, said to Villegas-Hernandez while speaking through a translator.
Lorenzo Rosalez, one of Cynthia Villegas’ five younger brothers, recounted in a written statement that he was in disbelief when he received a call notifying him of his sister’s death.
“It wasn’t until I arrived at my sister’s house and saw the crime scene tape and multiple police cars and broken-hearted family members that I came to the realization of what had happened,” Rosalez said in the statement, which was read aloud by Carolyn Glover, a public information officer for the District Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial District.
Other family members remembered Cynthia Villegas as a kind-hearted woman with a big smile and recalled the four young daughters.
Despite his change of plea a week before, Villegas-Hernandez also stood before the court and delivered a 25-minute statement professing his innocence.
“I did not commit this crime,” Villegas-Hernandez said.
He maintained the claim made by his attorney at the start of the trial that another individual was behind the killings.
Hunter later expressed disappointment that Villegas-Hernandez did not take the opportunity to accept responsibility for his actions.
“That did not happen,” Hunter said. “In fact, what occurred was just abuse of another nature.”
Key, when he later spoke to the media, referred to the statement made by Villegas-Hernandez as a tirade that did not have “a stitch of truth.”
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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