After lunching on pizza provided by the court, jurors in the murder trial of Marino Leyba, Jr, returned today with their verdict:
• Guilty of the first-degree murder of Sarah Lovato
• Guilty of the first-degree murer of Bennie Ray Lovato, Sr
• Guilty of aggravated burglary
• Guilty of tampering with evidence
Leyba's sentencing, set for some time after July 4, will be little more than a formality: The murder convictions automatically result in two life terms of imprisonment. However, because this is a capital case, the verdict is automatically appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, according to defense attorney Gary Mitchell.
The jurors' verdict, Mitchell tells SFR, is "classic New Mexico
...We haven't caught up with the science [of mental health]."
Linda Lovato, Sarah's mother and Bennie's ex-wife, told reporters that she felt justice was served.
"I'm glad it's over, and I think the family has closure now," Santa Fe Police Detective Tony Trujillo, who investigated the murders, told SFR.
For background on the case, read this SFR cover story, and this follow-up. For previous days' trial coverage, click here.