ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hours after a nuclear engineer with the U.S. Air Force shot and killed a motorcyclist at a West Side carwash last March, he told detectives the shooting was in self-defense.
The detectives told James Morales, 49, they would continue to investigate and turn over the case to the District Attorney’s Office to decide if he will face charges, according to a police report released to the Journal Wednesday.
No charges have been filed against him.
Michael Patrick, a DA spokesman, said attorneys received a large chunk of the case a couple of weeks ago, but are still waiting for ballistic, autopsy and other reports
“We’re still getting information on it,” Patrick said. “There are still more tests that need to be completed.”
When reached by the Journal, Ryan Villa, Morales’ attorney, reiterated that the shooting was done in self-defense.
“Roybal attacked him without any provocation,” Villa said. “Roybal was armed with a knife and a gun.”
Shortly before 6 p.m. on March 26, Earl Roybal, 59, and his girlfriend, Libby Miller, were at the Hose It carwash on Coors near Quail NW cleaning Roybal’s Harley-Davidson before going on a ride.
That’s when Morales pulled up behind them in his blue Chrysler and asked when Roybal would be finished with the carwash bay, according to the police report.
Roybal said they were almost done and Morales mumbled something and went back to his car, Miller told detectives later.
Then the two men got into an argument.
“I couldn’t hear him because they were pretty close and he went like that and pushed Earl,” Miller said. “Earl pushed him back and he went back to punch and when he went back, the guy pulled out a gun. Earl stepped back, had his hand out, and goes ‘Bro, everybody has a gun.’ ”
Then, she said, Morales shot Roybal three times – hitting him in the left chest, the upper abdomen and his left forearm.
Roybal was also carrying a gun, but when officers arrived it was in the holster, according to the reports.
Witnesses told detectives Roybal had not drawn his weapon and was backing away with his hands up when he was shot. And grainy surveillance footage from the carwash shows Morales bringing his hand back and drawing his gun as Roybal backed away with his right hand stretched out in front of him, according to the reports.
Roybal was taken to the hospital, where he died.
Morales called police and stayed on the scene to be interviewed.
“I got clobbered in the face,” he told detectives. “I saw his gun. I was shocked.”
Police said his face was swollen and he had a laceration on his chin.
According to the report, Morales had a concealed carry permit and no convictions, and Roybal did not have a concealed carry permit and also had no convictions.