Year in review: Homicide rate drops in 2010

File photo The Clovis Apartments was the scene of a homicide in March; it was one of two this year.

CNJ staff

For the second year, Clovis’ homicide rate has dropped in keeping with an overall reduction in violent crimes.

There were two homicides in Clovis — the Feb. 3 shooting of 36-year-old Sandra Bousqet and the March 13 stabbing of Andrew Gama, 21 — down from three in 2009.

Gama died at Plains Regional Medical Center from wounds he suffered during an early morning fight at the Clovis Apartments.

Luciano P. Guerra is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the case. Trial is pending.

Bosquet died March 3, a month after she was shot in the neck.

Police said her neighbor, 61-year-old James Fitzpatrick, shot at her during a dispute in her home.

Fitzpatrick is charged with first-degree murder.

Last year also saw closure on three area murder cases.

In August, 43-year-old Robin Banister received the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for the June 2009 stabbing death of Clifford Webber.

Police said she stabbed Webber in the chest, then hid his body in a nearby house until a witness led police to the badly decomposing body several days later.

Sentencing is Jan. 14 for Anthony Ray Casillas convicted in August of the first-degree murders of Melissa Ward and Gary Payne.

Police said he shot and killed Payne, 52, of Melrose and 36-year-old Ward of Lubbock in September 2008 while riding in a van on King Boulevard.

The trial, held in Portales, was the second for Casillas after a mistrial was declared earlier in the year in Clovis because of outbursts by Casillas’ family members in the presence of jurors.

Casillas faces a maximum of two life sentences.

In May, Brandon Barela, 25, of Roswell received a life sentence in the 2009 robbery and murder of Tucumcari truck driver Ron Hittson.

Ron Hittson’s body was found April 2 near Sugarbeet Road and State Road 523 in Curry County.

Police said his attacker beat him so severely with a concrete block, Hittson was not recognizable.

Barela was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and two counts of tampering with evidence.

Police said Barela and a group of coworkers befriended Hittson at a Clovis bar. When the group went driving in the county, they said the driver stopped and let Hittson out of the vehicle at his request, but Barela got out and attacked him on the side of the road, beating him to death.

Barela could be eligible for parole after he serves about 40 years of a 48-year sentence.

Overall crime rate date for the year is expected in the spring, according to police.