Convicted Clovis native killed in Hobbs prison

Paul Lasner, 31, died Monday in a Hobbs prison while serving a life sentence for a 1997 shooting. Police are investigating the death as a homicide.

Sharna Johnson

A 30-year-old Clovis man serving a life sentence in prison for a 1997 murder was killed Monday at a Hobbs facility.

Paul Lasner was transported from the Lea County Correctional Facility to Lea Regional Hospital, where police said he was pronounced dead.

Hobbs police and medical personnel were called to the facility for a report of a battery around 1:30 p.m. Monday, according to Mike Stone with the Hobbs Police Department.

Medical responders attempted to resuscitate Lasner at the prison and continued efforts during transport to the hospital, Stone said.

Lasner was the only person with reported injuries in the incident, he said.

The death is being investigated as a homicide, police said.

Stone said as of Tuesday afternoon there had been no arrests in connection with the case and would not say if police have any suspects.

He also would not disclose the nature of Lasner’s injuries.

Stone said while Lasner’s death is the first in at least a year, there have been other homicides at the facility in recent years.

A state prison, the Hobbs facility is privately run under the management of the GEO Group.

Lasner had been housed at the facility since April 5, 2007, according to Rosie Sais, corrections department spokeswoman.

Sais declined to release further information, citing the pending investigation.

The 350,000-square-foot prison houses more than 1,200 medium-security male inmates. The facility opened in 1998 and is located four miles northwest of Hobbs.

Lasner was convicted in 1998 in the drive-by shooting death of 17-year-old Johnny Joe Lucero, according to news archives.

Fugitive Noe Torres, 17 at the time of the shooting, was wounded in the shooting and later recovered from his injuries.

Police said Lasner drove up to a residence at 1309 Chama St., honked his horn to lure three male teens outside, then fired one shot with a sawed-off shotgun.

The shotgun shell was loaded with marble-sized pellets that scattered when fired.

Police said Lasner was retaliating against the three for the earlier beating of a friend of his.

Torres — wanted in connection to the unrelated 2005 shooting of Clovis fifth-grader Carlos Perez — talked about the shooting during a series of recorded phone calls he made to the Clovis News Journal in 2009.

He described the 1997 shooting as a turning point for him.

“It broke my spirit because my friend, my closest friend died… The man that was accused of shooting me, I had a chance to go after him while we were in the county (jail)… Instead of getting revenge, I just called him and I said ‘Paul’ and he looked at me, and I said ‘look,’ and I showed him the scars on my leg where he shot me,” he said.

“I said, ‘Look what you did to me bro,’ and I showed him the tattoo of my friend’s name and said, ‘Look, you killed my friend,’ but I said, ‘You know what? I forgive you, God bless you,’ and he just dropped his head.”

Torres has eluded law enforcement for nearly five years and remains on the run. Police have said they believe he travels back and forth between Mexico and New Mexico.

In October, a federal provisional warrant was issued to expedite Torres’ extradition in the event he is arrested in a foreign country.