Charges possible for homeowner in deadly Dona Ana home invasion
POSTED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 7:39pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 10:44am
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Charges against the homeowner in the New Year's home invasion in Dona Ana that resulted in the death of a 25-year-old man could still be pending, but the district attorney said he needs all the facts before filing charges.
During a news conference the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department confirmed a third suspect had been arrested and formally charged.
Nathan Avalos, 19, was arrested Monday afternoon with Leonard Calvillo, 22, and 19-year-old Raymond Garces both arrested soon after the incident.
All are facing multiple felony charges that include aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and criminal damage to property.
Sal Garces, 25, who was also with the group died on the scene after suffering multiple stab wounds and head injuries.
"There are a lot of moving parts in these cases and there's still a lot of analysis that needs to be made," said Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D'Antonio.
Sheriff's investigators said it was about 2 a.m. New Year's Day when the group of four men broke into the home of Joe Torrez to settle an argument from earlier in the night.
"That argument that took place inside the city limits was a trigger to the home invasion we're investigating right now," said DASO Spokesperson Kelly Jameson.
Torrez, a professional MMA fighter, his fiance, two-year-old son and 17-year-old sister were inside the house at the time of the alleged home invasion according to investigators.
Attorney for Torrez, C.J. McElhinney said at least one of the men had some sort of homemade weapon and also picked up a knife from the kitchen.
Court documents show Leonard Calvillo, 22, threatened Torrez saying "We'll kill you" and also threatened his two-year-old son.
McElhinney said there was a life and death struggle ending with the death of Sal Garces.
"Every American has the right to defend their home their family and their life and that's exactly what my client was doing on January 1st," McElhinney.
Garces would die on the scene from multiple stab wounds and head injuries.
Investigators said they found his body about two homes down from where the alleged fight took place.
McElhinney said it was about 60 yards away.
"He didn't kill him just to kill him," said Martin Dimas, Garces' uncle. "He killed him with a lot of anger and you don't do that to anybody."
Dimas said he doesn't know what led up to the fight but he says his nephew was not the one behind it.
He said Garces was in a situation that somebody else put him in.
He admitted both his nephews and the other two men should have never been at the house in the first place, but believes they must have been provoked.
"It was wrong of them to have done that, but they had to have done something to him cause my nephew wasn't a person that was like that.
Dimas said he would like to see charges filed against Torrez.
"I don't have enough facts and information to make those important decisions," D'Antonio said.
The district attorney said once the investigation is complete he will decide if more charges will be filed.
McElhinney said public interest in the case has grown immensely making it vitally important for law enforcement to conduct a proper investigation.
McElhinney said his client had been cooperating with the investigation but is no longer helping after the questions turned into Torrez actions.
A support page has been made for Torrez and people are even contributing money for a possible defense.
Family for Garces said they are planning his funeral sometime this week and held a fundraiser Saturday for funeral expenses.