FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A 20-year-old man’s sentencing for beating a Farmington doctor to death with a pool cue will be delayed pending an appeal over a misstep by jurors.
District Judge William Birdsall said he’ll delay John Mayes’ sentencing for second-degree murder so defense lawyers can appeal Birdsall’s decision Thursday to not acquit Mayes because the jury considered charges out of order.
Mayes, 20, was convicted Nov. 25 in the June 2011 killing of Dr. James Nordstrom at Nordstrom’s home.
Court [auth] documents indicate that the jury convicted Mayes of second-degree murder after first acquitting him of manslaughter, The Daily Times reported (http://bit.ly/1adO2FL ).
The jury had been instructed to reach a verdict on charges of first-degree or second-degree murder before considering the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Mayes’ lawyers asked Birdsall to acquit Mayes of murder because the manslaughter acquittal means constitutional protections against double jeopardy bar subsequent consideration of the more severe charge.
Prosecutor Brent Capshaw said the jurors had no intention of acquitting Mayes of the murder charges when they acquitted Mayes of manslaughter.
“Someone’s not going to walk on a murder count on some technicality where we all know what happened, and we resolved it appropriately at the time,” Capshaw said.
Birdsall said the jury clearly didn’t intend to acquit Mayes of the murder charge when it returned the manslaughter verdict.
“The bottom line is, if I grant the defendant’s motion, then it will in effect, stand the jury’s intended verdict on its head,” Birdsall said. “I don’t think the law would support an absurdity of that sort.”
Prosecutors said Mayes killed Nordstrom during a burglary, while Mayes’ lawyers contended that Mayes was defending himself from an unwanted sexual advance by Nordstrom.
The second-degree murder conviction, along with convictions for five other charges, means Mayes could be sentenced to up to 31 1/2 years in prison.
Mayes is the son of Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes.