A Las Cruces man, who admitted to murdering a Realtor in 2011 then trying to burn the crime scene and the victim's body before fleeing, was sentenced to life in prison, plus 25 years on Monday in District Court.
Mario A. Mendez, 26, signed a plea agreement detailing five charges associated with the murder, including first-degree kidnapping, arson over $500, tampering with evidence, larceny over $500 and receiving stolen property, according to court documents.
Mendez said he killed Jack Hadley, 62, during a botched burglary at Hadley's Las Alturas home on Sept. 23, 2011.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Scot D. Key said Mendez took Hadley's computer, tried to burn the crime scene, and then fled the neighborhood in his mother's 1997 Ford Taurus. Hadley's partner spotted the Taurus as he was returning home.
Twelve days later, investigators identified Mendez as the suspect, and went to his home, where they found a case for a 9-mm handgun and a torn T-shirt splotched with blood.
Doña Ana County sheriff's investigators later arrested Mendez as he returned to New Mexico after having tried to escape to Arizona, prosecutors said.
Key added that Mendez confessed to the crime while being questioned by investigators.