Contractor, wife behind bars for murder

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (KRQE) – One man is dead and two people are in jail all over county business.

KRQE News 13 learned Sunday that a dispute between two flood contractors has ended in murder. It’s a situation some say had been brewing, but never thought it would come to this.

The Sierra County Sheriff’s Department is dealing with a murder they say is over money.

“It’s an unfortunate act that happened,” Sierra County Sheriff Joe Baca said.

The crime scene is just south of Truth or Consequences in the small community of Las Palomas.

Sheriff Joe Baca says Frank Chavez confessed to killing Jeff Martin. He points to business as the motive, as both men worked as independent contractors.

“There had been some words exchanged in commission meetings between all of the contractors and individuals,” Baca said.

Sierra County Commissioner Frances Luna says they had just doled out roughly $5.6 million in contracts, much of it to fix areas that took a hit last September when monsoon rains hit the state hard.

She says Chavez was one of five contractors given a deal and that Martin didn’t even bid. Yet Baca says they continued to argue and things kept on brewing and that violence ultimately erupted.

Baca says Chavez shot Martin at least two times, once in the neck and once in the face.

Chavez has some company behind bars. His wife, Deann Chavez is also locked up on charges of accessory to murder and tampering with evidence.

“I don’t believe it was planned, but I do believe Mr. Chavez acted out wrongfully and should have to pay the consequences of his actions,” Baca said.

The couple is being held on a no bond hold. The Sierra County Detention center says they could be arraigned as early as Monday.

Just prior to this murder, Sierra County Commissioners had dissolved the Flood Commission.

Commissioner Luna says the whole thing has been very complicated and says they’re working with the governor to move the contract funds to the county.

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