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

Portales man pleads to involuntary manslaughter


August 29, 2016

Staff report

A Portales man involved in a 2009 slaying will serve four years probation after pleading to involuntary manslaughter last week.

Martin Silva, 41, had been slated to go to trial Monday before reaching the plea agreement.

Court records show Silva was initially charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 25-year-old Marco Bonilla of Portales.

Silva’s trial originally began in May 2015. After a full day of testimony, Judge Drew Tatum declared a mistrial upon learning a forensic expert the state called as a witness was not the original pathologist who worked the case.

Ninth Judicial Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover said Monday that he and defense attorney Gary Mitchell reached the plea agreement Friday afternoon.

Stover said the agreement called for Silva to serve four years probation, because he had already served two years in jail awaiting trial.

Stover said the pathologist who originally conducted the autopsy on the victim no longer works for the New Mexico state laboratory and was refusing to show up for court.

“Given the age of the case, we cannot continue it again. It was too big a risk waiting to see if he (the pathologist) would come versus getting some kind of justice for the victim’s family,” Stover said.

He said the case was an unusual one from the beginning considering how many parties were involved in the fight that took place the night of the incident.

He said without the pathologist’s testimony, the state felt they could still have proven involuntary manslaughter, which is intentionally killing in the passion of the moment.

“The victim’s family also did not want to take the risk,” Stover said. “They are not happy, but they felt it was better to get some justice rather than take the risk (of a not-guilty finding).”

The following are details from the case, according to court records:

• Bonilla, brother Rodrigo Bonilla and Lucio Ramirez arrived at a residence in the 200 block of West Ivy Street in Portales on the night of Nov. 23, 2009, to buy methamphetamines from Asia Pena. Silva and his wife, Tonya Meeks, were at the residence with Pena, along with a man named Leroy Salas.

• After a disagreement occurred between Pena and Ramirez, 22, who was buying the drugs, the three men left, returning later that night with weapons — a hammer, a board and a pipe.

• Bonilla was stabbed through the ribs as well as being bashed in the front and back of the head with the board — the crime for which Silva was accused.

Salas, 60, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2013 in connection with the case.


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