The trial of the State of New Mexico versus Jose Arias entered its fourth day, Thursday, with both the State and defense playing recorded phone calls may by Arias to his spouse Victoria Velasquez-Arias, from Chaves County Detention Center during the period of April 24 to May 16, 2011.
Arias faces charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, after the shooting and death that occurred on West Fourth Street only four days after his release.
CCDC Administrative Assistant Dora Gonzalez described the process of copying the calls for the court. She attested to the fact that the recordings could not be altered and confirmed that each person is warned at the time of making the calls that the calls may be recorded.
A recorded message announces the caller and gives recipient the option to accept the call or refuse it.
Defense attorney Anna Marie Bell asked if Victoria had ever tried to sneak in to see Arias. Gonzales replied that she had many times and they had to post a picture of her, since she was not supposed to visit him as the victim of the crime for which Arias was jailed.
The District Attorney’s lead investigator Pat Barncastle provided an overview of the calls, saying that they received a total of 99 calls made by Arias to his grandmother and to Victoria during a three-week span. Defense was provided with all calls Arias made from January until his release in May.
Barncastle testified about their overall tenor. “Numerous calls were made daily. The calls to Victoria started out pleasant, becoming demanding and demeaning.”
Assistant District Attorney Debra Hutchins played several calls in which Arias threatened Victoria.
On two occasions, Arias called giving a false name. Victoria accepted the calls.
Bell played two recorded calls in which Arias professed his love for Victoria. Victoria was upset and volatile. They discussed and disagreed about what they will do on the day of his release. Arias said he wanted to get cleaned up before they got together, and then asked Victoria for money.
The prosecution called New Mexico State Police Crime Scene Team investigator Lauren Milligan who conducted a crime scene reconstruction. Using a computerized model, he discussed the trajectory of the bullet. He could not say with any certainty where the shooter was, but was able to ascertain the bullet was shot from a distance 4 feet or greater from the victim.
The State’s final witness was Capt. Quintin McShan, formerly New Mexico State Police liaison of the Family Advocacy Center in Albuquerque. He spoke about the cycle of violence and abuse. “It’s a matter of power and control. … As things progress the leaving becomes more difficult.”
According to McShan, the mechanism of abuse varies. It can be verbal, psychological or physical, or a combination of the three. Often the goal is to isolate the victim. “The offender can restrain their ability to communicate.”
Bell asked if women can be the more dominant partner, or the offender.
McShan said they could.