Nevares pleads to 2017 Capulin murders, receives life sentences


CONEJOS —It was a matter of poor choices and resulting consequences, so Santos Nevares will spend the rest of his life behind bars for murders committed January 15, 2017 near Capulin.

Appearing before 12th Judicial District Judge Martin Gonzales and a gallery filled with friends of his three victims on Friday, Nevares pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder in connection with his actions.

The three felonies carried with them hefty sentences, which Gonzales ordered to run consecutively.  First-degree murder brings life without parole, second-degree, 48 years in the Department of Corrections.

Nevares, now 27, went to a birthday party for Guadalupe “Lupe” Cervantes, who was celebrating his 57th birthday at his home just outside Capulin, and began firing.

He had encountered the group earlier at the town bar, where they were watching football and celebrating the birthday, became belligerent when victim Marissa Cervantez rebuffed his advances and then followed the group to the Cervantez home after a football game was over.

Lupe Cervantez had invited him to the party and the shootings began about 6 p.m. that day, a Sunday.

Sheriff’s deputies discovered two men deceased, a young woman critically wounded with a gunshot wound to the head and a third young man screaming in a nearby field.

Nevares was arrested after a van he drove from the scene got stuck in the snow a few miles from the site. He was described as intoxicated and armed, allegedly threatening officers who approached.

An arrest affidavit said Jose M. Archuleta, 54, was partially out of a running Ford Thunderbird and suffered fatal gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead.

Lupe Cervantez celebrated his final birthday by dying from gunshot wounds. Deputies discovered a pulse when they arrived, but that soon ceased.

Marissa Cervantes was found under a blanket next to the car, clinging to life with a gunshot wound to the head, but died after being flown to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood and placed on life support, which was discontinued when it was shown that she had no brain activity.

Screaming in a nearby field led officers to Don L. “Kinki” Martinez, now 36, who suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. He was flown to a hospital outside the area and is recovering, though he is currently disabled and facing a stack of bills.

Martinez managed to run from the scene, far enough that Nevares’ bullets couldn’t strike him.

Nevares was assigned public defenders. He waived a preliminary hearing and was slated for a first appearance Friday.

His attorneys told Judge Gonzales that Nevares had decided to plead guilty to three counts of a lengthy roster of charges. The judge asked Nevares a series of questions to determine that he was pleading guilty on his own free will. He answered “yes” to all.  He responded in the affirmative that he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs and not being influenced by anyone outside the case. The judge told him he was giving up his rights to appeal the forthcoming sentences, to appeal the conviction, to ask for a jury trial and more. His right to an attorney was the only right he didn’t give up.

Presented a factual basis for the charges by Deputy District Attorney Ashley McCuaig, Judge Gonzales proceeded to hear statements from the families of the victims and then levied the sentences.

Nevares was remanded to the custody of Conejos County deputies, who would transport him to the State Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentences.