Man sentenced to life in prison in 2012 fatal shooting

ROSWELL N.M. — It was a day of high emotion at the Chaves County Courthouse Friday when a man was sentenced in the deadly shooting of a husband and father.

“For the crime of first-degree murder of Saul Sanchez, you are sentenced to life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole after 30 years,” 5th Judicial District Court Judge James Hudson said, an announcement that was accompanied by cries of the victim’s family members who were present.

Luis Jimenez received the sentence after being convicted of first degree murder and aggravated burglary following a three-day jury trial earlier this month.

The charges stem from the deadly shooting of 39-year-old Saul Sanchez in December 2012.

Sanchez was shot and killed at a West Third Street home in Roswell, where Sanchez was staying with his wife and two daughters while attending a local funeral.

Prosecutors say Jimenez was burglarizing the house with another man, 27-year-old Joseph Barnhill. When Sanchez encountered Jimenez inside the home, prosecutors say Jimenez shot and killed him.

“This man decided to rob the house for a few trinkets and shot and killed my little brother. Unbelievable,” Israel Sanchez, the victim’s brother, told the court – minutes before the sentence was handed down.

At the hearing Friday, loved ones who fought back tears, carried framed portraits of Saul.

“I would like the court to see my little brother that is no longer with us,” Israel Sanchez said.

The Sanchez family used the hearing to address the court to honor Saul, who they said had a passion for golf and was a dedicated family man. They also requested that Jimenez receive the maximum possible sentence.

“Luis has no idea how he has affected us, not only friends and family, but the community at large,” said Sonya Garcia, Saul’s sister.

Jimenez’s wife and mother also spoke to the court before sentencing, giving a starkly different account of the man convicted of murder.

“I know the charges he is facing are very serious, but that does not portray the kind of person he is inside, “said Esther Jimenez, his wife.

Instead, she described Jimenez as a man who was generous and worked hard to support his family.

“He was extremely giving, a loving husband and a good provider, and a good father,” she said.

After the hearing, Melissa Sawyers, Jimenez’s attorney, said they plan to appeal the conviction.

Barnhill, who testified against Jimenez at trial as part of a change of plea agreement, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday on one count of aggravated burglary related to the shooting.