Ex-con who searched closed prison arrested in home invasion
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A former state prison inmate who last year was allowed to search for evidence of abuse at the now-closed New Mexico Penitentiary has been arrested in a Las Cruces-area home invasion, Dona County authorities said.
Samuel Ponce Chavez, 58, remained jailed Tuesday after being arrested Friday at a home where three people were confronted at gunpoint.
Chavez served time in state prisons for a 1988 conviction for second-degree murder.
He claimed during a two-year court battle that the state conducted medical experiments on penitentiary prisoners, tortured them and sold their organs and blood.
Chavez didn’t find any evidence during a brief 2016 search authorized by a judge despite denials and objections by the Department of Corrections.
In Friday’s incident, two of the victims were bound with zip-ties and duct tape but one of the two managed to free himself and ran to a nearby home where an occupant called 911, the county Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Responding deputies arrested Chavez as he ran out of the home’s front gate while carrying a handgun and wearing a black wig, a fake beard and an earpiece connected to a radio that monitors police frequencies, the department said.
Chavez was jailed on suspicion of multiple crimes, including armed robbery and kidnapping.
Online court records don’t list that he has a defense attorney who could comment on the allegations.