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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, April 1, 1999

Nashville judge sets high bond on Herrera

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 1, 1999 -- Bail bondsman Jose T. "Joey" Herrera Jr. was unable to raise bail on charges of fabricating evidence and money laurdering, and remains in Metro Nashville Davidson County Jail today in Nashville, Tenn.

Davidson County District Judge Cheryl Blackburn set bail at $500,000 for Herrera on Tuesday, following a hearing in which Herrera and Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo testified.

Herrera is charged by indictment with three counts of fabricating evidence, conspiracy to fabricate evidence, and money laundering.

Tennessee bail bondsmen were unable to post the large bail, said John Zimmerman, the senior assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case for the Davidson County Criminal Court.

Zimmerman said that Tennessee law requires that bondsmen post cash or actual property to secure bail. One local bondsman was prepared to post $250,000 or less, but not $500,000, he said.

"We already had two other defendants (in the same case) with $250,000 bond, and they are local defendants," Zimmerman said.

As Herrera testified about a $25,000 cashier's check that he brought to pay on his bond, Judge Blackburn asked about his prior record.

Herrera testified he was charged at one time with bribery, but the charge was dismissed after he completed a judicial diversion probation period.

Nashville Police Officer Jesse Burchwell, who interviewed Herrera after his March 15 arrest in Pecos, testified that Herrera admitted sending three forged death certificates to Tennessee, which resulted in the indictment.

Burchwell also testified that officers found a pad of blank death certificates when they searched Herrera's house.

"The numbers on the blank certificates were in the same sequence as those he sent up here," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the Tennessee courts are faced with the problem of three Hispanic drug dealers who have now fled to Mexico. One was free on $500,000 bail and the other two on $250,000 each, posted by Paul's Bonding of Nashville.

Herrera had arranged for bail in all three cases, telling a Paul's Bonding employee, "when they don't show up, I will send you a death certificate," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said that three of the four criminal court judges had the phony death certificates presented in their courts. Blackburn was the only one who did not, so she was assigned to hear the case.

If Herrera is convicted, he could be sentenced from 8-30 years on the money laundering count, 3-15 years on each of the three fabricating evidence counts and 2-12 years for conspiracy to fabricate evidence, Zimmerman said.

The two other people charged in the case, Paul's Bonding manager Peggy W. Coleman, 52, and agent James Mitchell (Wolf) Ferrell, 39, were arrested on Dec. 11, 1998 during a raid on the company's office by Nashville vice division dectectives, according to the (Nashville) Tennessean, three months prior to Herrera's arrest.

Pecos man faces charges following raid on home

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 1, 1999 -- Charges are pending on a Pecos man after officers discovered marijuana during a narcotics search warrant executed Wednesday night.

Officers from the Pecos Police Department and the Reeves County Sheriff's Department executed the narcotics search warrant Wednesday, at 8:21 p.m., at the home of the Sylvia Rubio family, 601 S. Willow St.

"Upon searching the residence a substance believed to be marijuana was found inside one of the bedrooms," said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

Deishler stated that the evidence was removed from the residence and charges are pending at this time for one male subject.

The action is the latest in an ongoing series of drug raids which police and sheriff's deputies have conducted at houses in Pecos since September.

Sunken barrel contained toe bones, Ranger testifies

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, April 1, 1999 -- Toe bones found in a barrel fished out of the Pecos River last year confirm a murder confession, Texas Ranger Jerry Villalobos testified this morning in 143rd District Court.

Villalobos arrested Christopher John Bigham on Aug. 19, 1998, after Bigham admitted he shot Lora Ann Brooks in Reeves County Dec. 1, 1997.

Defense Attorney Adrian Chavez seeks to have Bigham's confession suppressed in the April 26 trial before District Judge Bob Parks, claiming that Bigham did not waive his right not to give a statement to officers.

District Attorney Randy Reynolds said that Bigham was advised of his rights before he was questioned, and his waiver of rights was implied when he voluntarily gave a statement.

Bigham was not in custody at the time he told Villalobos and Det. Stephan of the Vancouver, Wash., police department that he shot Brooks, Reynolds said.

Villalobos said that he took Bigham into custody after he admitted the shooting, and he was again read his rights before giving a taped confession.

In that confession, Bigham said that he shot Brooks in self-defense after she stuck a handgun into his back. He said that he buried the body, but later dug it up and burned it in a barrel.

Villalobos testified that Bigham described the barrel as having a 3-inch hole near the bottom to allow fuel and oxygen to enter, and a pipe inside. Bigham said he burned Brook's body in the barrel, then dumped it in the Pecos River from the bridge at Farm Road 3398, about four miles north of Pecos.

A Department of Public Safety dive team recovered a barrel like the one Bigham described on Aug. 27, 1998, Villalobos said. Remains scraped from its interior were sent to a forensic pathology lab at Texas Tech University, where Dr. Robert Payne identified four bones he described as parts of two human toes.

Judge Parks asked the attorneys to submit briefs on points of law before April 9 so that he can rule on the motion to suppress before the jury trial begins.

Villalobos said the investigation into Brooks' disappearance began after Brooks' parents contacted the FBI. Bigham had left his 20-acre ranch on the Pecos River and returned to Washington state with Brooks' three children, he said.

Brooks' 14-year-old daughter, Anna Martin, told investigators that she had seen a body in a barrel, and that Bigham told her Brooks had committed suicide, Villalobos testified.

Schools, city, county closing for Good Friday

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD students will have a reprieve from the studies both Friday and Monday, as students take some time off in honor of Good Friday and the Easter holiday.

Town of Pecos City employees will also enjoy a day off Friday in honor of Good Friday, as will all Reeves County employees. However, the Pecos Post Office and federal offices will remain open and mail delivered at the usual time.

Both First National and Security State banks will remain open throughout the day, but Security State Bank will not re-open at 5 p.m., as is their custom on Fridays.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) No tickets correctly matched all six numbers drawn Wednesday night for the twice-weekly Lotto Texas game, state lottery officials said. A winning ticket would have been worth an estimated $7 million. The numbers drawn from a field of 50 were 14, 29, 33, 34, 35, 36.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 8-1-1 (eight, one, one).

Obituaries

Lucinda Marruffo

Services are incomplete for Lucinda N. Marruffo, 67, who died Wednesday, March 31, 1999 at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

Juan Jasso

Juan Jasso, 75, died Tuesday, March 30, 1999, at Reeves County Hospital.

Mass was celebrated at 10 a.m., today, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was born Dec. 27, 1923, in Loving, N.M., was a life-long resident, a retired farmer and a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Belen Jasso, of Pecos; four sons, Johnny and Jaime Jasso of Pecos, Eddie Jasso of Kermit, Lorenzo Jasso of Portales, N.M.; four daughters, Delia Jasso and Olga Arenivas and Irma Vasquez of Pecos; Gloria Jurado of Hobbs, N.M.; five brothers, Cruz Jasso of Indio, Calif., Adan Jasso of Las Cruces, N.M., Jose Jasso of Pecos, Manuel Jasso of Juarez, Chih., Mexico and Concepcion Jasso of Banderas, Chih., Mexico; two sisters, Maria Sandoval of California and Jesus Valles of Juarez, Chih., Mexico; 30 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

High Wednesday 87; low last night 47. Tonight, partly cloudy. Low in the lower 50s. Southeast to south wind 5-15 mph. Friday, partly cloudy and breezy. High in the upper 70s. southwest wind 15-25 mph and gusty.



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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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