New Mexico

Victims of the State

5 Cases

Map of Counties

U.S. Cases




Date of Alleged Crime


Bernalillo County, NM Albuquerque Four Feb 8, 1974
Thomas Gladish, Richard Greer, Ronald Keine, and Clarence Smith were members of the Vagos motorcycle gang in Los Angeles, CA.  They were all convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of William Velten, Jr., a University of New Mexico student.  Velten was allegedly killed on Feb. 8, 1974 and his body was found on Feb 13 in the Manzano foothills east of Four Hills.  The prosecution's key witness was a motel maid named Judith Weyer, who claimed that she witnessed the crime.  The four men were in Los Angeles at the time of the murder.  About six months after their convictions, Weyer admitted that her testimony was fabricated and said she had been coached and pressured by the police and prosecutors.  Nonetheless, the trial court refused to order a new trial.  Several months later, the men were granted a new trial after another man, Kerry Rodney Lee, confessed to having committed the murder.  Based on this confession and evidence corroborating it, charges against the four were dropped and they were released in 1976.  The men were aided by the Detroit News, which spent $75,000 to help establish their innocence.  [7/05]


Bernalillo County, NM Van Bering Robinson Sept 10, 1980
Van Bering Robinson was convicted of murdering Albuquerque Police Officer Phil Chacon.  Chacon was gunned down at Wyoming and Central while responding to a robbery report at a shoe store.  Robinson was exonerated in 1983 after it was found that three Albuquerque police officers falsified information to frame him for the murder.  Robinson was awarded $75,000 in 1985.  [9/05]


Eddy County, NM Terry Seaton 1971 (Carlsbad)
Terry Seaton was convicted murdering a Carlsbad baker.  The baker was castrated, and cooking oil was poured over him before his body was burned.  Seaton was prosecuted even though he passed a polygraph test.  Another man had confessed to the murder, and the key witness against Seaton had failed a polygraph test, but this evidence was withheld from Seaton's defense at trial.  There was also evidence that Seaton had burglarized a men's clothing store in Clovis and could not have traveled to Carlsbad in time for the murder.  Seaton was released in 1979 after this newly acquired and presented evidence cast strong doubt on his guilt.  He was awarded $118,000 in 1983 for his wrongful arrest plus another $217,500 in fees for his attorneys.  (Albuquerque Journal) (MOJIPCC)  [2/10]


Eddy County, NM Ralph Rodney Earnest Feb 12, 1982

Ralph Rodney Earnest was convicted of murdering 31-year-old David Eastman, an oil field worker who was killed near Carlsbad, NM.  Eastman's body was found on Feb. 12, 1982 in a ditch beside N.M. 31.  At Earnest's trial, his two co-defendants, Perry Conner and Phillip Boeglin, were called to testify.  Conner testified that while he and Boeglin committed the crime, Earnest was not involved.  Boeglin refused to testify, even though he was given immunity from the use of his testimony and was held in contempt of court for his refusal to testify.  The prosecution then introduced into evidence a taped recoding and a transcript of a unsworn statement made by Boeglin to police on the day of his arrest.  In the statement Boeglin admitted that he attempted to cut Eastman's throat, but he implicated both Conner and Earnest, stating Earnest shot Eastman in the head.

In 2007, the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned Earnest's conviction because he was denied the opportunity to cross-examine Boeglin regarding the taped statement and was thereby deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to confront an accuser.  The prosecution had to drop charges against Eastman because Boeglin again refused to testify.  (Albuquerque Journal) (AJ2) (Earnest v. Dorsey)  [2/10]


Union County, NM Francisco Garcia Convicted 1913
Francisco Garcia was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for killing a man in a saloon.  According to N.M. Supreme Court, "Francisco Garcia, one of the defendants, became engaged in an altercation with the deceased, whereupon deceased shot Garcia and he fell to the floor, and remained there, unconscious, during the whole of the remainder of the difficulty.  Cipriano Garcia, his brother, was at the time at the back end of the saloon where the difficulty occurred, and took no part in the same up to this time.  Upon hearing the shot and seeing his brother fall to the floor, he rushed to his rescue, encountered the deceased, and killed him.  No proof of concerted action on the part of the brothers is shown."  The Court found that Francisco was not entitled to relief from his conviction because his counsel failed to ask the trial judge to instruct the jury to acquit his client.  Nevertheless, at a rehearing the Court used its discretion to overturn Francisco's conviction "because the evidence conclusively establishes his innocence."  Charges against Francisco were subsequently dropped.  (State v. Garcia) (MOJIPCC)  [7/09]