By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
A Portales man has received a sentence of 12 years in the state
penitentiary in the 2008 beating of a then-82-year-old woman and the
burglary of her house.
Joel Zertuche, 19, was given the maximum sentence Wednesday after
being convicted of aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit
aggravated burglary in January, according to a press release from the
district attorney’s office.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said Zertuche was in Roosevelt
County Detention Center awaiting transport to the state Department of
Corrections facility in Los Lunas.
“Although it doesn’t fully restore Ms. (Jo Ann) Vickers (after) what
happened to her, it’s the maximum sentence under New Mexico law,”
Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer, who prosecuted the case, said the sentence was appropriate.
Portales Police Capt. Lonnie said Zertuche was one of the men who
entered Vickers’ house in March 2008, beat her when she came out of her
bedroom, stole her property and left after disabling her phone.
Berry said Vickers crawled to the front porch, where a neighbor
heard her calling for help. Police were able to recover some of her
property and arrested Zertuche and two suspected accomplices within the
Mowrer said Vickers requested the maximum sentence for Zertuche at the hearing.
Vickers told the court she can no longer work, drive for long
periods of time or live alone, and some days feels a lot of pain,
Mowrer said. She said Vickers also told the court she hoped keeping
Zertuche in jail would prevent others from being harmed.
“The injuries and scars are permanent, and she’s a very caring lady;
she does have forgiveness for her attackers,” Chandler said.
Jay Brian Stewart and Preston Blake, both of Portales, were also charged in connection to the incident.
Stewart, 21, was previously convicted of residential burglary and
was sentenced to six years. Mowrer said evidence indicated Stewart was
involved in the incident, but wasn’t in the house when Vickers was
Blake, 25, faces trial Wednesday and Thursday in Portales. He is
charged with aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated
burglary, tampering with evidence, receiving stolen property and two
counts of attempting to dispose of stolen property. Mowrer said Blake
could face at least 18 1/2 years in prison if convicted.