Agreement reached to keep witnesses in homicide case

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Local law enforcement have reached an agreement with federal authorities to keep witnesses to a November homicide in Texico involving a Honduran national in the U.S., District Attorney Matt Chandler said.

In addition to the victim, seven witnesses in the deadly shooting six weeks ago were Honduran nationals working at local dairies, according to police. Their immigrations status has been an obstacle in the case, Chandler said.

“In this particular case, we have seven eyewitnesses to the incident and the Department of Justice wanted to deport all of them until the appropriate paperwork was prepared by our office,” Chandler said.

Investigators feared if eyewitnesses were deported they would be unavailable for testimony or impossible to find.

Four of the witnesses were determined to be in the U.S. illegally and were sent to camps in El Paso and Las Cruces, Chandler said. The status of the other three has yet to be determined because they did have some temporary papers, Chandler said. Once they are fully documented, the Department of Justice has agreed to return them to Curry County on a parole status.

Chandler said those witnesses will be issued temporary visas and will be placed under the strict supervision of area law enforcement on the condition they assist with the investigation.

Once the investigation is concluded, Chandler said their immigration status will be re-evaluated by federal authorities.

“It was a very large obstacle that jeopardized the investigation but we’ve been able to overcome that and now we can truly focus the investigation on the suspect or suspects involved.”

Elvin Osmin Orellanna Rivera, whose exact age is unknown, was killed Nov. 25 during a home invasion, police have said.

Witnesses told police half a dozen men entered two mobile homes in the 500 block of Florence Street and assaulted the occupants, robbing them at gunpoint.

Law enforcement has declined to elaborate on details of the shooting such as how many shots were fired, how many shooters there were and how many times Rivera was shot.

No arrests have been made.

Chandler said investigators have several persons of interest in the case.