Violent weekend adds third homicide in Clovis

Andy Jackson: Freedom Newspapers

Clovis recorded its third homicide of the year late Saturday, but that wasn’t the extent of the violence over the Christmas weekend.

Clovis Police Lt. James Schoeffel said officers responded to five unrelated violent crimes between Christmas Eve and Christmas night.

In addition to the homicide, an attempted armed robbery took place outside a Clovis residence, and a rape, kidnapping and assault occurred in the home of a Clovis woman on Saturday.

On Sunday, a man was shot at a Pile Street business and another stabbed outside the Prince Lounge, Schoeffel said.
The only arrest was related to the homicide.

While police received fewer calls reporting crime this Christmas than in 2003 or 2004, this year’s events were more violent than usual and required extra overtime efforts and special unit investigations, Schoeffel said.

Here’s a summary of the reports:

• Christmas Eve homicide: Officials will not give a motive for the fatal shooting outside the Econo Lodge Motel. The shooting occurred about 9:45 p.m. in the motel parking lot where police found Joseph Phillips, 48, of Guthrie, Okla., dead with blood on and around his head, a police report shows.

Before he was shot to death, Phillips called a cab to pick him up from the motel where he had been staying since Dec. 2, then exited the vehicle to smoke a cigar, 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler said Tuesday.

The driver of the G&C Taxi cab and the man that called police, Richard Berry of Portales, said he saw Jimmy Bentley, 71, of Farmington point a small handgun at Phillips’ face and shoot Phillips while his hands were raised, records show. The shooting occurred after a short exchange of words outside the motel, records show.

Officials have said Phillips did not know Bentley.

Police handcuffed two women, Linda Bentley, 60, of Farmington, and Maela Edmondson, 35 of Albuquerque, along with Bentley, the report shows. The women are Bentley’s wife and niece respectively and were visiting Clovis for the holidays, Chandler said. They were not arrested, officials said.

After the shooting, the women told police, “You are blowing this out of proportion,” and “This is not a big deal,” the report shows.

Latia Lorraine Neighbors, 25 of San Antonio, Texas, told police Phillips was her business partner. Phillips was working as a photograph package salesman at North Plains Mall, officials said.

Bentley was booked at the Curry County Adult Detention Center on $100,000 cash bond on Christmas morning, detention records show. He is represented by Randy Knudson and will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m today, Chandler said.

• Christmas Eve rape: A 40-year-old Clovis woman called police about 11 p.m. after a man she was acquainted with entered her home to smoke marijuana, taped her mouth, beat her, trapped her in a closet, and repeatedly raped her, a police report shows.

The woman said her attacker is about 5 feet 7 inches, and weighs 350 pounds, records show.

• Christmas Eve robbery: An unidentified masked man attempted to rob a Clovis man and his son at gunpoint about 6:45 p.m. outside their home on the 1700 block of Erinn Place, police records show.

The individuals had no money, they were not harmed and police have no suspects, records show.

• Christmas morning stabbing: Police found Victor Gonzales, 25, in the parking lot of the Prince Lounge with a stab wound to his left side and a bloodied folding pocket knife on the ground adjacent to him, the report shows.

A bouncer employed at the lounge told police Gonzales and an unidentified patron were kicked out to the parking lot about 12:15 a.m. for fighting. They continued to fight in the parking lot until Gonzales was stabbed by a knife he had been holding, the report shows.

• Christmas night shooting: Police responded about 9:30 p.m. to Plains Regional Medical Center in reference to a shooting victim.

With a bullet wound to his right leg above the knee, Zachariah Stephenson, 29, told police he was shot by an unknown man after opening the door to the shop where he was living on 1200 Pile St., the police report shows.

Stephenson described the shooter as a Hispanic, bald male, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, 230 pounds, who wore a white jacket and drove a maroon Lincoln Navigator with chrome wheels, the report shows.

“Some years are more violent than others,” Schoeffel said. “Crime hits in spurts. When it rains it pours.”