Luna County Sheriff Raymond Cobos
(Deming) – Luna County Sheriff Raymond Cobos is questioning whether six years of incarceration is enough for a convicted murder and escaped convict.
Ernesto Gutierrez, who was convicted in the August 1983 stabbing death of Francisco “Kiki” Rodriguez at the Esquivias Lounge south of Deming, is scheduled for a parole hearing Friday.
Gutierrez was sentenced to 12 years in the New Mexico Corrections system in September of 1983 – 30 years ago – for Rodriguez’s death, but escaped from the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility west of Las Cruces in November of 1984 – just over a year later – and lived for over 23 years as a fugitive in Mexico before being caught again in January of 2008 and extradited to New Mexico to serve his time.
Cobos, who was a captain and one of Gutierrez’s arresting officers in 1983, said he is sending a letter to the parole board saying he doesn’t feel six total years of incarceration is adequate to address Gutierrez’s murder and escape-from-custody charges.
Interestingly, Gutierrez was in Luna County that fateful day in 1983 because he had fled Mexico after reportedly slashing the throat of a Mexican police chief.
Gutierrez and his brother, Manuel, were both sentenced for Rodriguez’s murder, but Manuel was unsuccessful in his escape attempt and served his time decades ago.
Luna County Sheriff Raymond Cobos is among New Mexico border-area sheriffs slated to meet with Colorado sheriffs this week in Las Cruces.
Lieutenant Jon Mooridian said the meeting was organized after some Colorado sheriffs indicated an interest in learning more about area narcotics and human trafficking issues, how the border is patrolled, and seeing the terrain first-hand.
Mooridian said often officials have misconceptions about the challenges of border law enforcement, including the remoteness and rough terrain along parts of New Mexico's 54-mile international border with Mexico.
Luna County is part of a five-county border sheriff's coalition involving Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Grant and Otero counties. Mooridian said those agencies are participating in this week's information-sharing session with the Colorado sheriffs. He added that as many as 10 New Mexico sheriffs may be there, and up to 25 Colorado sheriffs.
The meeting is taking place Tuesday and Wednesday at a Las Cruces hotel, and will involve escorting the visitors to see the international border firsthand.