Man accused of murder before

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By Lee Einer

Natividad “Steve” Roybal, the man recently charged with killing Terrie Greer near Camp Luna by hitting her on the head with a rock, was charged with murder once before.

Roybal was arrested and tried for the 1987 Halloween night murder of Las Vegas resident Rick Gonzales.

According to a police report, Officer Phillip Vigil was dispatched to the Monte Vista apartments about half-past midnight to investigate a shooting. On arrival, he found Gonzales lying on the floor, his head resting on a Domino’s pizza box, a bullet hole just below his right eye.

Gonzales was dead,

He had been shot a total of four times — in the face, arm, leg and back. The state medical examiner’s report said that the shot to the face was fired from between six and 18 inches away. There were powder burns on the victim’s face.

Roybal was arrested the next day.

According to the police report, Roybal admitted to the arresting officer that he shot Rick Gonzales. Roybal said he had gone to Gonzales’ residence to confront him about money that he thought Gonzales had stolen from his home.

Roybal said Gonzales pulled a knife and told him to leave. Seeing the knife, Roybal said he shot Gonzales, the report states. He said Gonzales swung the knife at him and he shot Gonzales again, and when Gonzales fell to the ground and dropped the knife, Roybal shot him a third time. There was no mention of the fourth shot in Roybal’s statement.

The report states that at that time, Roybal told police that he fled the scene, taking the knife and the pistol with them, and disposed of them both in Storrie Lake.

Later, however, Roybal told police that he really didn’t throw the knife and the gun into Storrie Lake, just the knife. He took police to an alley in back of Grand Avenue, where he hid his pistol.

The knife that Roybal claimed to have thrown in Storrie Lake was never found.

Roybal was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Ulibarri argued that Gonzales, rather than calling police to investigate the suspected theft, took matters into his own hands. Roybal, Ulibarri said, “decided to let the gun do the talking. The gun spoke four words.”

Roybal’s attorney, Louis Valencia of Bernalillo, N.M., argued that Roybal never intended to kill Gonzales, that Roybal knew Gonzales to be a violent man, and that Roybal acted in self-defense.

The jury found Roybal guilty of tampering with evidence. It acquitted him of murder. Roybal received a suspended sentence and probation, and walked out of the courtroom a free man.

“I was not really surprised when I read about Roybal because I kind of knew it would happen again,” said Rick Gonzales’ mother, Teresa Gonzales. “Nothing was done to Steve Roybal. You can see if you read the records that he did admit to killing my son, he did admit to going to his house and my son telling him to get out, and he still went in with a gun and shot him. The jury found him not guilty and I don’t see why.”

• • •

At the time of Roybal’s arrest in the murder of Terrie Greer, Roybal was out on bail on charges of committing aggravated battery and false imprisonment on her.

According to the probable cause statement, Roybal on May 21 had been drinking and arguing with Greer all day long because she had failed to put some dishes away. Greer told the arresting officer that Roybal pulled her hair, and began punching and kicking her in the face, arms and back, reports state. Greer also said Roybal had held her against her will and had threatened to kill her and dump her body into the Gallinas River.  

The officer reported that Greer had two black eyes and a bite mark on her forehead as well as purple marks on her arm, back and the back of her neck where she had been hit.

The only injury observed on Roybal, according to the report, was a swollen right hand.

In that case, Roybal was released on $10,000 bond, with the court allowing 10 percent of that to be posted with the court.

Roybal was ordered as part of his terms of release to avoid contact with Greer.