Jury selection begins

Freedom New Mexico Staff

PORTALES — Jury selection began Monday in the case of two Clovis men charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a 10-year-old Clovis boy while he slept.

“We are still in the process of jury selection,” 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler said by phone late Monday.

Chandler said 52 potential jurors from a starting pool of approximately 75 will be back in the district courtroom in Portales today as jury selection continues.

Chandler said he expects to have a jury seated today with opening statements likely by early afternoon.

One of the attorneys for the defense, Roger Bargas of Corrales, said earlier in the day the selection was going well as the judge took plenty of time was being taken with each potential juror.

“I think because of all the issues it’s going to be slow,” Bargas, said of jury selection. “None of us anticipated it would go quickly.”

Carlos Perez was killed by a bullet fired through his bedroom window in September 2005 while he slept next to his then 16-year-old brother, who police say was the intended target.

Demetrio Salas, 21, and David Griego, 31, are accused of participating in the shooting.

A Roosevelt County jury pool was assembled after the trial was moved by now-retired Judge Joe Parker from Curry County to Lea County because of publicity.

Presiding Judge David Bonem ordered the trial moved to Portales. He said he felt media coverage in Roosevelt County would not preclude jury selection but would make for a longer selection process.

The first-degree murder trial of two other men in the case, Edward Salas, 23, and Noe Torres, 28, has been continued into mid-October, according to court records. Torres is still at large.

Orlando Salas, 16, pleaded guilty in March 2006 and was sentenced as a juvenile. He will be eligible for parole at age 21.