Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Police receive autopsy report on shooting victim
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- The Pecos Police Department has received
the autopsy report on the death of 21-year old Keith Leigh, who was shot
and killed in an alleged burglary attempt early Tuesday morning on the North
side of Pecos.
"Yes we have received the autopsy report yesterday," Lt. Kelly Davis
said. "The body is also back."
Davis said that Leigh's cause of death was from the result of an artery
in the lung being hit by the gunshot.
"He (Leigh) bled to death internally," Davis said.
The autopsy report was ordered to help police with their investigation
after officers found his body in an alley in the 200 block of North Pecan
Street, where they had been called following a report of a house burglary
Leigh was shot in the upper back during the alleged burglary at the home
of 21-year old Reuben Mills, of 325 N. Pecan St.
According to the police report, a call came in at 2:14 a.m. in reference
to the burglary, and when Sgt Armando Garcia and Officer Ricky Martinez
arrived at the location, Mills informed them that he had been awakened by
two individuals who might have gained entry into his residence.
He then went on to tell them that he had gotten a rifle from inside his
own home and fired several shoots in the direction of the intruders.
The gun used in the incident was a 22-rifle, which was recovered by police.
After speaking with Mills, Garcia and Martinez began to search the immediate
area for anyone who might have been hit by the gunfire.
After some time the officers located Leigh at the 200 block of North Pecan
with an apparent gunshot wound to the upper back.
Police said that Leigh was already dead when they discovered him.
As the investigation continues, Davis said that they have only recovered
one bullet but four casings from the home of Mills.
"We looked for the other bullets but it's hard when you are in an open
area like that," Davis said.
He added that they also looked for possible bullet holes in the home but
"We hope that we can conclude this case soon," Davis said.
One of three inmates caught after improper release
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- One of the three U.S. Marshal Service inmates
who were mistakenly released late last week was arrested by the Pecos Police
Department Wednesday in Midland.
Criminal Justice Center Jail Administrator, Tony Dawdy said that Juan
Gabriel Leyva Valdez had been arrested and turned over to the custody of
the U.S. Border Patrol after he cashed a check he received at the time of
his release last Friday from the CJC.
Dawdy said that Valdez had cashed his check in Midland the same day he
was released and then on Monday the bank received a red flag on the cashed
"The bank notified the Chief (Clay McKinney)," Dawdy said. "He then contacted
me and I then contacted the Midland County Sheriff's Office."
He added that he also contacted the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service, who in turn provided Dawdy with the name of Alex Rodriguez of the
Midland County Sheriff's Office.
Once in Midland, Dawdy said that he and Rodriguez arrived at a mobile
home, located at Space No. 1 at 1140 North County Road, where they found
Valdez hiding in the bedroom.
Currently the other two inmates have not cashed their checks but once
they do Dawdy hopes to make an arrest.
Dawdy said on Tuesday that the three inmates had already served their
time, but were supposed to have been released to the custody of the INS
rather than just let go from the CJC, which houses U.S. Marshal's Service
inmates under a contract between the federal government and the Town of
"That day we had people coming in and had a lot of releases at the same
time," said Dawdy.
Dawdy said that the CJC had received a fax from INS advising them to
release several individuals. "These three were supposed to have been released
to the INS and not the street," he said.
"We are still looking for the other two inmates."
WIPP truck hit by vehicle in Andrews
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - A Waste Isolation Pilot Plant truck carrying three
empty containers was struck by a pickup Wednesday in Andrews, Texas.
The WIPP truck was returning the nuclear waste transportation containers
to a South Carolina site, said Kerry Watson, assistant manager for the waste
program at the Department of Energy's Carlsbad field office.
The pickup hit the driver's side of the WIPP trailer after pulling out
from a stop sign. The WIPP truck sustained damage to the trailer fender
and two tires.
The driver of the pickup was cited for an improper left turn.
The accident will not affect the driver's work with Tri-State Motor Transit,
Watson said. It was the second traffic collision in the four years WIPP
has been open. The first occurred in August, when a pickup truck struck
a WIPP truck carrying waste from Idaho.
Empty WIPP trucks are allowed to follow routes outside the path those
transporting waste to the site near Carlsbad are required to take. Trucks
headed to WIPP from South Carolina with radioactive waste deliveries are
required to travel through Texas along Interstate 20 to Pecos, and then
through town along U.S. 285 to the plant site, 25 miles southeast of Carlsbad.
Pecos High School GED registration
PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- GED testing will be held at 4:45 p.m.,
Monday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 1, at the Pecos High School.
Registration is scheduled from 1-5 p.m. this coming Monday and Tuesday
at the Pecos High School Counselors' office.
Examinees must present a Texas driver's license or Texas Department of
Public Safety ID Card.
For more information call Pecos High School counselors Pat Cobos or Eva
Arriola at 447-7229.
Gomez seeks local support to save Task Force funding
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- Local law enforcement officials are asking
the community's help in their fight to maintain the Trans Pecos Drug Task
Force, which is being threatened with the loss of funding along with other
task forces across Texas.
"We're asking for everyone to write to our legislator or sign out petition
to keep the task force," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.
State Rep. Terry Keel, R-Austin, the former Sheriff of Travis County,
is trying to pass H.B. 801, which would cut funding to all Texas Narcotics
Task Forces that receive funding from the Department of Justice Byrne Memorial
Fund. State funding for drug task forces has to be renewed through the Texas
governor's office each May.
"That would include ours, the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force," said Gomez.
Keel served as Travis County Sheriff for four years, covering an area
that includes the city of Austin. He proposed the bill as a way of helping
to cut the state's budget deficit, but also questioned the effectiveness
of drug task forces across Texas.
"They've just not been effective and in some cases have been proven to
be corrupt," Keel told the Associated Press in early March. "The idea is
flawed. There is no accountability for these guys. There's no accounting
for task force operations. I think the drug task force is just a failed
The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force includes: Midland County, Andrews County,
Andrews Police Department, Culberson County, Loving County, Winkler County,
Reeves County and the Pecos Police Department.
As sheriff of Reeves County and Project Director of the Task Force, Gomez
said he is concerned that if the bill passes this area would lose a task
force that has seized over $900,000 in assets and over $17 million in narcotics.
"I ask all our citizens to help in keeping our Task Force working for
them. How? By writing a letter to your legislator or calling them, or by
signing a petition that is being circulated in your communities," said Gomez.
Gomez, along with Chief Deputy Victor Prieto, will be traveling to Austin
on Sunday for a school and also to meet with state legislature and the committee.
"We'll be going to a school, but at the same time, while we're there we
want to talk to committee members, take our petitions and letters that are
in favor of the task force," said Gomez. "I want to talk to them before the
bill is presented to the legislature."
"As you are aware one of our officers Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez paid the ultimate
price on the war against drugs with his life, leaving behind a wife and
two children," said Gomez. "Losing the Task Force is a slap in the face for
law enforcement, and a victory to all the dope dealers.
"Did our officer give his life in vain? I ask that you help us keep our
task force," Gomez said.
He also mailed a copy of a letter to all the participating agencies with
the task force. "We hope they will sign the petitions in those communities
and we can take those up there as well," Gomez said.
Copies of the petition can be found at different businesses in Pecos,
including the Pecos Enterprise, for those individuals that would like to
sign it in favor of keeping the task force.
"Especially in a time like this where our federal government has acknowledged
the link between narco-trafficking and terrorism, we need your full support
and the support of the great state of Texas in the war on drugs more now,
than ever," said Gomez.
"I would like to thank all citizens that have shown support in the past
and ask that you continue to do so," he said.
Letters and petitions in favor of the task force can be dropped off at
the Sheriff's Department office at Fifth and Oak streets or the Trans Pecos
Drug Task Force, 317 Cypress St. "I think this is very important to the community,"
The Reeves County Hospital District has also drafted a letter in support
of the task force and will be sending it to Austin with the sheriff. "The
local Lion's Club will be doing the same," said Gomez.
"The reason the letters are important is because they count how many are
in favor and opposed and the more correspondence we put together in opposition
of this bill, the better it will help us to keep the task force," said Gomez.
The letter from the hospital states in part: The drug task force is a
tremendous asset to our county and all surrounding counties. The Trans Pecos
Drug Task Force has played a significant role in keeping drugs off the streets.
Reeves County is located on a major drug trafficking corridor. By intercepting
drugs on the interstates, these officers are keeping our communities safer.
It is an undisputed face, that the resources and expertise of the drug task
forces play a leading role in putting thousands of drug dealers behind bars
and removing millions of dollars worth of narcotics from our streets.
Reeves County Hospital is in the process of recruiting physicians to our
area. One of the primary questions asked by those interested in relocating
in our community is how safe is your community and are there a lot of drugs
in your area? At this point we can answer that we have a safe community
with little crime and good law enforcement agencies that make a concerted
effort to remove crime from our county. If the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force
ceases to exist, crime in our area will increase in direct correlation to
a rise in drug distribution in our area, thereby affecting businesses and
impacting communities. Please send a strong message to drug traffickers and
keep our society safe and free of corruption.
"We appreciate and thank everyone who signs our petition or writes a letter
in our favor," said Gomez.
"Mystery candidate" beats deadline to file for council
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- A fourth candidate filed at the last minute
to run in the May 3 Town of Pecos City Council elections. However, the name
has not been released by city officials, who are checking to see if the
person meets eligibility requirements.
City officials would not give out the name of the candidate this morning,
until he/she has been cleared and certified as eligible to run. If that
person is ruled ineligible, the election for the three seats on the city
council in the May 3 election will be uncontested, and under state law the
council; can then order the election canceled in order to save money.
Mayor Pro-tem Gerald Tellez and councilman Frank Sanchez are seeking
to retain their seats on the Pecos City Council, while Danny Rodriguez filed
to return to the council after being defeated for re-election a year ago.
The other council member whose term is up in May is Johnny Terrazas, who
did not file for a new two-year term.
Wednesday was the last day to file for a position in the May 3 elections.
Potential candidates had until 5 p.m., to decide if they would like to run
for an office in the May 3 elections in the Balmorhea and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISDs, Town of Pecos City Council, Reeves County Hospital Board, Balmorhea
City Council, Barstow City Council and Toyah City Council.
As of the deadline Wednesday, only the two area school elections were
assured of contested races, and the race for the Balmorhea City Council
had more seats up for election than candidates.
Four candidates will be seeking the two three-year terms up for election
in the P-B-T ISD race. Incumbents David Flores and Steve Valenzuela are
challenged by Randy Baeza and Amy Montgomery Miller.
In the Balmorhea ISD race, incumbents Tommy Rey Dominguez and Paul Matta
have three challengers in their bids for re-election, in Sharon Oates, Abel
Baeza and Courtney Ballard.
Uncontested races include those for the Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 seats
for the Reeves County Hospital District board. Pablo T. Carrasco filed to
run for the Precinct 4 seat on Monday, and will replace Hugh Box, whose
home in no longer within the Precinct 4 boundaries. In Precinct 2, incumbent
Linda Gholson is unopposed for that seat.
In Barstow, incumbents Olga Abila, Dora Villanueva and Ted Porras have
filed for new two-year terms on the city council and Angel Abila has filed
for the one-year unexpired term.
Ike Ward filed to retain his seat on the Balmorhea City Council, one of
three seats up for election this year. Sammy Baeza currently holds the other
seat and there is one other seat vacant. Balmorhea officials did not report
any new filings prior to the deadline.
PECOS, Thurs., March 20, 2003 -- High Wednesday 69. Low this morning 49
Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s. South winds
5 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Isolated thunderstorms. Highs in the
lower 70s. Southwest winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Slight
chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 40s. The chance of rain is 20
percent. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s. Sunday: Partly cloudy.
Lows near 40. Highs near 80.
Alma Heard, Ronald Keith Leigh, Jr., Socorro Rodriguez and Manuel Villanueva
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise