The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Hadix found not guilty

 

December 1, 2017

Tony Bullocks

William Hadix answers a question from Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover on Thursday morning at the Curry County Courthouse, while Judge Fred Van Soelen listens.

CLOVIS — William Hadix is a free man again, more than two years after being arrested for the 2003 slaying of Jessie Clyde "J.C." Tucker in Clovis.

A 12-person jury deliberated roughly 90 minutes Thursday evening following three days of trial before declaring Hadix not guilty of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery.

Much of the state's case hinged on the testimony Wednesday of Telia Vancleave, who claimed to witness her godfather Hadix point a gun at Tucker the afternoon of Sept. 4, 2003. For the jury, consisting of three men and nine women, that testimony was not sufficient to overcome the lack of additional evidence tying Hadix to the crime.

"We questioned (Vancleave's) credibility," jury foreman Jamaal Williams said Thursday night. "I feel physically sick right now ... but we just didn't find the evidence was enough to convict him."

Tucker was found dead from three bullet wounds more than 14 years ago in the office of his storage and automobile sales and salvage yard west of Clovis. Investigators would speak to over 120 individuals in the ensuing years, but the case went cold, Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover said during the trial this week.

"I think there's a big difference between proving a case and persuading a case. I think it's very likely that the jury knew this man committed the murder, but we just didn't give them enough evidence to persuade them to give us a (guilty) verdict," Stover said Thursday night. "There's really not a next step now. I remain convinced that Bill Hadix is the murderer."

Hadix, 69, was arrested Sept. 3, 2015, in eastern Illinois, one day before the 12-year anniversary of Tucker's execution-style killing and almost 10 years after Hadix left Clovis.

The basis for his arrest then was an account from one of Vancleave's older brothers, Cory, who along with another sibling lived with Hadix and their mother in his mobile home at the time of Tucker's death.

According to court records, Cory Vancleave told police in July 2015 that Hadix had confessed to him the murder and asked him to melt the gun used in the shooting.

Cory Vancleave was included on the witness list for this week's trial but was never called to testify, as he had "absconded from probation," Stover said Thursday.

"We believe that he is somewhere in Louisiana but his whereabouts are not known," he said.

Telia Vancleave, who only revealed her witness of the crime in 2016, defended her decade-long silence on the matter this week with the same explanation her brother gave police years earlier: fear of repercussions from Hadix.

In his closing argument Thursday afternoon, defense attorney Gary Mitchell said Vancleave's emotional testimony this week was a "fantasy" concocted "ominously, (for) the protection of her brothers."

Stover said after the trial that he was disappointed but respected the jury's decision.

"If we could start the investigation over in 2003, certainly there's things I would do differently," he said, "but in terms of the case this week, we put on the very best case we could."

The trial, which stretched from jury selection all day Monday through the verdict Thursday just before 6 p.m., was attended by roughly a dozen of Tucker's family and friends, some of them offering testimony and all awaiting justice through the years.

"I feel bad because the family is still in limbo, and I feel bad for the family because they still don't have answers," Williams said. "I think that goes for the whole jury. That's why we stayed in there so long. We went over and over (the evidence) just to see if we missed anything."

Tucker's daughter Jackie Davidson said she was "in shock and numb" following the verdict. Tucker's fiancee Barbara Watford said "we did what we could."

"What I want to say you couldn't print anyway," said Tucker's nephew, Dwain Tucker.

As for Hadix himself, who denied from the start any role in Tucker's death, Mitchell said he was "extremely happy and thankful to the jury."

"It's been a two-year ordeal for him and he hopes to be able to return home and get the surgery he needs and live a good long life," he said. "He was always optimistic that when a jury heard the evidence in this case they would realize he didn't do this and he would be set free."

Mitchell said he appreciated the professionalism of the prosecuting team and Judge Fred Van Soelen.

"The state had an excellent prosecutor. I think he is, if not the best, one of the top five prosecutors in the state," he said.

Hadix, who had worked various handy man jobs for Tucker since 1993, said Thursday morning during testimony that he thought of his old boss as family.

"(Tucker's death) tore me up pretty bad because we were close," he said. "I never shot him. I was not in the office that day."

 

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