New trial under way in Portales for Casillas

Jared Tucker

PORTALES — A new trial is under way for Anthony Casillas, 23, who is charged with two shooting deaths in Clovis in 2008.

District Attorney Matt Chandler said 911 tapes from the night of the shooting were introduced Tuesday morning as evidence after opening statements.

The trial in District Court is expected to continue through Friday.

Casillas is accused of killing Gary Payne, 52, of Melrose, and Melissa Ward, 36, of Lubbock as the trio drove on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Sept. 25, 2008.

If convicted, Casillas faces two consecutive life sentences in prison.

Casillas’ first trial was declared a mistrial Jan. 13 by Judge Robert Orlik after Casillas’ uncle collapsed on the witness stand and two members of Casillas’ family caused a disturbance in a courthouse hallway with jurors present, according to Chandler.

The trial was also moved to Portales.

Chandler said the change of venue and increased security measures will help move the case forward.

Casillas’ attorney, Jesse Cosby, was not immediately available for comment.

According to court records, Casillas has been charged with six felonies while incarcerated, including battery on a peace officer, attempting to commit a felony, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit battery on a peace officer, extortion and bribery of a witness.