Second man sentenced in 2012 shooting death

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ROSWELL, N.M. — A judge sentenced a second man to a decade in prison for his part in a 2012 burglary in which a father and husband was shot and killed.

Joseph Barnhill, 34, was sentenced to nine years in prison, followed by two years parole, on one count of aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon. Because of his prior record as a convicted felon, his prison term will be increased by one year.

The sentence was in line with the recommendation of the Office of the District Attorney for New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District. He also rejected a request by the defense that Barnhill is allowed to serve his sentence in this case at the same time as the sentence he is currently serving on an unrelated drug trafficking charge.

On Friday, Luis Jimenez, 31, was sentenced to life in prison on one count of first-degree murder in that same case following a three-day jury trial.

Barnhill in 2020 had pled guilty to the burglary charge as part of a plea agreement, which included prosecutors dismissing a murder charge against him.

Prosecutors say that on the afternoon of Dec. 11, 2012, Barnhill and Jimenez broke into and ransacked a West Third Street home, where Saul Sanchez, 39, and his wife and two daughters were staying at the time.

Sanchez was shot to death inside the house, when he tried to confront Jimenez. Barnhill – when he testified at Jimenez’s trial – admitted to having broken into the house that day, but that he fled the house and was waiting in Jimenez’s car when the shot was fired.

Unlike Friday’s sentencing of Jimenez, neither members of Sanchez’s family or those of the defendant addressed the court.

However, Camille Cordova, Barnhill’s attorney, asked Hudson to allow Barnhill to serve his sentence on the burglary charge, at the same time as a sentence he is already serving on an unrelated drug trafficking charge.

Cordova in her remarks portrayed Barnhill, as someone whose lengthy criminal record was fueled by drug addiction and having grown up around adults who themselves were criminals.

“He was never encouraged to do anything, except live day-to-day to support his habit,” she said.

Cordova though said that her client has changed significantly since then and is about halfway through completing a drug treatment plan while in prison.

She argued that Barnhill has worked to improve his life, citing the fact that he testified against Jimenez.

“He’s working on his GED, he has earned his commercial driver’s license while incarcerated. And most importantly he has tried to do the right thing,” she said.

Barnhill himself, wearing red prison fatigues and leg chains, also addressed the court and expressed remorse.

“I would just like to offer you an apology, your honor, and just tell you that I won’t be before you again in your court,” Barnhill said.

Hudson applauded the steps Barnhill has taken to better his life and in providing testimony at Jimenez’s trial. But he said that does not absolve Barnhill from blame for his part in the events that culminated in the death of Sanchez.

“That doesn’t eliminate considerations of culpability in the tragedy that happened that day,” Hudson said.

He described the killing of Sanchez as “a nightmare come true” that has impacted multiple lives.