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

2 Portales teens face adult murder charges


Last updated 7/9/2022 at 11:21am

PORTALES – A Portales grand jury on Friday indicted two teenagers on adult charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery with great bodily harm in connection with last month’s beating death of a Portales man.

Gabriel Love, 17, and Luciano Sotelo, 16, both face up to 16 ½ years in prison if convicted of all charges.

A third teen, who was 15 at the time of the attack, will face juvenile charges in connection with the death of James Roper, 37. Assistant District Attorney Arwen Gaddis said that suspect could be held in a state juvenile facility until age 21 if convicted.

A fourth teenager involved in Roper’s death remained at large on Friday. He faces second-degree murder charges and prosecutors plan to try him as an adult when he’s captured.

District court judges early last week granted an extension of time for determining whether the juveniles could be tried as adults.

A grand jury had been scheduled July 1, but could not hear the case because 12 grand jurors must be present. District Attorney Brian Stover said only 11 grand jurors were in attendance.

Stover said he had 10 days to show probable cause either by grand jury or preliminary hearing after filing a notice of intent to seek adult charges. That deadline was not met because of the grand-juror shortage, but Stover said Judges Ben Cross and Drew Tatum granted extensions due to the circumstances.

ADA Gaddis said 16 grand jurors appeared Friday to hear the case.

“They were eager to be there and engaged in their duties,” Gaddis said.

Prosecutors contend Roper was beaten and kicked in the head in an alley behind a Portales convenience store on June 5. He died nine days later as a result of those injuries.

Two of the teens are being held in a juvenile facility in Dona Ana County, Gaddis said; the third is in a juvenile facility in Chaves County.

Gaddis said she expects all three suspects will be arraigned this week when they will also have opportunity to seek release until their trials.

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