Press release: Max sentence given in 1993 Portales murder

Portales, NM: Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler announced that Arnoldo Navarette, age 40, was sentenced to the maximum time allowed by law today for his convictions of First Degree Murder and Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. The charges stem from the 1993 shooting death of Portales resident, Reynaldo Ornelas, Sr.

Navarette was found guilty at trial on September 30, 2010, but sentencing was postponed until today to allow the parties sufficient time to prepare arguments.

At trial testimony revealed that on May 30, 1993, Navarette drove to a Portales residence and opened fire on Reynaldo Ornelas, fatally injuring him. A bystander was also shot in the arm as a result of the incident. Following the investigation, Portales Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Arnoldo Navarette. However, Navarette immediately fled the state after the shooting occurred and it was learned that he was moving back and forth between the United States and Mexico. In June of 2009, 16-years later, law enforcement received a tip that Navarette was working under an alias in Odessa, Texas. At that time, law enforcement located Navarette, arrested for the 1993 murder, and transported him back to Roosevelt County to stand trial.

District Judge Teddy Hartley sentenced Navarette today to life in prison for the First Degree Murder conviction plus an additional three years for the Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon conviction. The life plus three years is the maximum punishment Navarette could have received under law.

District Attorney Matthew Chandler said, “We hope that today’s sentencing not only brings a sense of closure for the victim’s family, but also sends a message of hope to those that are longing for resolution in cold cases such as these. Navarette tried to avoid this day in court for nearly seventeen years, but justice ultimately caught up with him.”

Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer and Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover prosecuted the case for the State. For additional information, please contact the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office or visit