New Mexico Supreme Court confirms murder conviction despite defendant’s concerns on judge’s actions

New Mexico Supreme Court confirms murder conviction despite defendant’s concerns on judge’s actions

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the first-degree murder conviction of an Alamogordo man who killed another man who he found with his “on-again, off-again girlfriend.” Christopher Huble appealed his conviction, claiming that the trial judge wrongly denied a requested jury instruction on what is necessary under the law for a justifiable killing in self-defense, according to a news release from the court.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice David K. Thomson wrote that the court concluded “the evidence offered in this case was not sufficient to warrant an instruction on self-defense.”

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Huble was sentenced to life in prison in 2022 for killing Harley Benedict after he discovered the man with his ex-girlfriend in the bedroom of a house he owned in 2020. Huble and the woman previously lived there together, but Huble had moved out, according to the court.

The court found that Huble provoked the deadly encounter, and made a “show of potentially deadly force” by brandishing an AK-47 and calling for Benedict to come outside the house. The court wrote that “in response to the lethal situation Defendant created, no reasonable juror could conclude that Victim’s actions in leaving the house and running at Defendant from a distance could have created an apparent danger of death or great bodily harm justifying a self-defense instruction.”

The court also rejected an argument by Huble that his conviction should be reversed because the trial judge instructed the jury that New Mexico law does not allow a landlord to unilaterally act outside the legal system to forcefully evict a tenant or someone invited to the property by its owner.

“The instruction is plainly irrelevant to the facts of this case as no evidence or theory indicated that Defendant killed Victim while trying to evict him, there was no rental agreement, Defendant was not a landlord, Gurule was not a tenant, and Victim was not an invitee,” the court wrote. “For these reasons, the instruction should not have been given, but that does not make it error.”