Murder conviction upheld by state Supreme Court

A murder conviction in the bloody bludgeoning of a trucker in Clovis will stand, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.

Chandler said the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected a Roswell man's appeal Thursday on all issues.

Brandon Barela was sentenced to life in prison plus 18 years after being convicted of using a concrete block to beat to death 51-year-old Ron Hittson during a robbery. Barela's attorney appealed his jury conviction in December 2010.

Hittson was a Tucumcari trucker who's body was discovered in a field in 2009 near Sugarbeet Road and N.M. 523. Investigators said his face and head were beaten beyond recognition and witnesses said Barela returned to a Clovis motel covered in Hittson's blood.

Police and witnesses testified Hittson had stopped in Clovis en route to Albuquerque and met Barela and two others at a Clovis bar. Investigators said they trio lured Hittson into a vehicle under the guise of finding marijuana but intending to rob him.

Barela was part of a crew from Roswell staying in Clovis to perform tests at local dairies.

Hittson's brother, Jack, issued a statement in response to the ruling praising Chandler, investigators and the state Supreme Court.

"The Clovis Community and the State of New Mexico can be proud of the job these public service members performed," Hittson said in the statement. "The expertise in the investigation from the very beginning and compassion shown the Hittson Family was extraordinary.

"Many hours were put into the capture and conviction of Brandon Barela and though we can never have our brother back, we can rest at ease knowing his murderer will remain behind bars for a very long time."

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