Third man arrested in robbery, beating of elderly woman

By Karl Terry, PNT managing editor

Two men were arrested late Tuesday night and another man on Wednesday in connection with a Portales home invasion in which an 82-year-old woman was battered, according to a Portales Police Department press release.

Jay Brian Stuart, 20, Preston Blake, 25, and Joel Zertuche, 18, all of Portales, face multiple felony charges. The homeowner Jo Ann Vickers, was listed in stable condition Wednesday at Convenant Hospital in Lubbock, according to a hospital official.

Family members said Vickers suffered a broken hip in the incident, Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said.

Vickers reported that property, including jewelry, was stolen in the burglary around midnight Saturday.

Police said by making contact with local jewelry stores and pawn shops they learned of individuals attempting to sell loose diamonds, which led them to Stuart and Blake’s residence at 1311 S. Ave. C, according to the release.

“Because it was jewelry (stolen) and some of it was diamonds, we immediately began checking the places where that type of thing might be disposed of,” Berry said.

Police said Vickers was awakened by the doorbell, but by the time she got to the front door, the three suspects had entered through a back door. Berry said police believe the back door may have been unlocked as there were no signs of forced entry. Berry said no weapons were used in the attack. Police believe Vickers sustained the injuries from being kicked.

Berry said because of her injuries, Vickers was unable to stand and use the phone on her wall. She crawled to the front porch of her residence and called out to a neighbor returning from a school event, Berry said. Police believe it may have taken her as long as an hour to make it to the porch.

Stuart and Blake are charged with aggravated burglary, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence and attempted disposal of stolen property. Zertuche is charged with aggravated burglary and conspiracy.

Stuart and Blake were being held Wednesday at the Roosevelt County Detention Center on bonds of $58,000 each. Zertuche was being held Wednesday at RCDC on a $35,000 bond.

Berry said police are still following up leads and charges against additional persons involved in attempting to dispose of the merchandise may be filed.

“We know it’s something that causes a lot of concern, especially for residents who live on their own,” Berry said.

Berry commended close cooperation between patrol and investigation divisions in developing the leads that led to the arrests.