Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler announced that Anthony Casillas, age 23, was found guilty today by a jury for two-counts of First Degree Murder, one-count of Tampering with Evidence, and one-count of Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. The trial, which started last Monday, concluded today with closing arguments and jury deliberations. The jury deliberated approximately two-hours before coming back with a verdict of guilty on all counts.
The case stems from an incident that occurred on September 25, 2008, in Clovis, when at approximately 11:00 p.m. Clovis Police responded to 911 calls reporting a van crashed into a cinderblock wall. At the scene, officers discovered two gunshot victims in the van and evidence that a shooter had fled the scene already. The driver, Gary Payne, age 52, and the passenger, Melissa Ward, age 36, both were pronounced dead within hours of the crash. The Ninth Judicial District’s Major Crimes Unit was activated and began conducting an in-depth investigation. One week later, officers located the defendant in Roswell, NM and placed him under arrest.
District Attorney Matthew Chandler stated, “Just two weeks before the murders, the defendant was telling others he wanted to know what it felt like to murder someone. Today, he knows what it feels like to be held accountable. The jury was very diligent in their deliberations and rendered the proper verdicts in accordance with the evidence presented over the past week. When sentencing resumes, we will be prepared to ask for the maximum time allowed under the law.”
District Attorney Matthew Chandler and Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrea Reeb prosecuted the case for the State of New Mexico. Anthony Casillas will be sentenced within the next ninety (90) days where he faces incarceration of up to sixty-six (66) years in the New Mexico State Penitentiary.