Las Cruces, NM – A recent development has led to a mistrial in a 2021 murder case in Doña Ana County, causing a delay in the proceedings surrounding the alleged killing of Ezekiel Diaz. The trial, which centered on defendant Jimmy Levi Rogers, 31, had promised significant courtroom drama, with key witnesses set to testify and evidence being presented.
Rogers faced charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence. Police believed he conspired with an accomplice, Hector Calderon, 30, to carry out the fatal shooting of Diaz on August 16, 2021. Rogers was apprehended days later in California after a police investigation.
During the trial, which lasted four days, a crucial error came to light. Judge Richard Jacquez declared a mistrial after discovering that a juror had violated the rules by researching the penalty for first-degree murder outside of court proceedings.
This information was then incorporated into the juror’s trial notes, compromising the integrity of the trial process. In such cases, jurors are expected to solely consider the evidence presented in court and refrain from seeking external information.
This breach prompted Judge Jacquez to make the difficult decision to declare a mistrial, effectively nullifying the proceedings up to that point. However, this does not equate to a dismissal of Rogers’ case; rather, it signifies that the trial will be reset with a fresh jury in the coming months. This decision aims to ensure a fair trial without undue influence from external sources.
Hector Calderon, Rogers’ alleged co-conspirator, had previously pleaded guilty to charges related to his involvement in the incident. Calderon accepted a plea deal that led to the dismissal of the murder charge in exchange for admitting to conspiracy and evidence tampering. His testimony was expected to be pivotal in Rogers’ trial.
This turn of events highlights the importance of maintaining the integrity of the trial process and the role of jurors in upholding the principles of justice. As the case proceeds, the court will strive to provide a fair trial for all parties involved while safeguarding against any potential taint of external information.
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