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Stabbing suspect to remain in custody pending trial

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The suspect in a recent stabbing that left one man dead will remain incarcerated pending trial.

John Eric Lerma (Submitted Photo)0

During a hearing Wednesday, Judge Thomas Lilley of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court granted a motion by the District Attorney’s Office to hold John Eric Lerma, 29, of Roswell in pretrial detention up through trial.

Lerma is charged with first degree murder, willful and deliberate, and tampering with evidence in connection with the May 11 stabbing death of Mario Zion Olivas Jr., 20, outside of a 200 West Mathews Street residence, according to court records.

Prosecutors, in their motion for pretrial detention, called Lerma a flight risk after he, his girlfriend and their 2-year-old son left Roswell. They were located May 14 at a home on Elford Avenue in Dexter after Lerma contacted Hagerman Police and turned himself in.

Lerma’s past felony convictions for breaking and entering and residential burglary, as well as a record of probation violations and failing to comply with court orders, were also mentioned by the District Attorney’s Office in their motion to keep him in pretrial detention.

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A number listed in electronic court records for Anne Gibson, Lerma’s attorney, did not work and Gibson could not be reached for comment before press time Tuesday.

Lerma is alleged to have stabbed Olivas in the neck with a knife during a fight after Lerma and another man reportedly went to the West Mathews Street residence to confront Olivas about a car stereo Lerma “believed the victim had stolen,” according to court documents.

After fleeing the scene of the stabbing, court filings state, Lerma ran half a city block and into a nearby alley where he allegedly disposed of the knife. Police later found a knife under two rocks in an alleyway while searching the alley on the day of the stabbing.

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

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