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UPDATED: Cleared Murder Suspect Sues

LOS LUNAS (AP) — A Marine from Belen arrested for shooting and killing a burglar on the Fourth of July three years ago is now going after the lawmen who put him behind bars.

KRQE-TV reports that Luke Sanchez filed a lawsuit this week against the Valencia County’s Sheriff Department. Sanchez was charged with an open count of murder after shooting a burglar who had broken into a propane business in Los Chavez.

Sanchez said he shot in self-defense when the burglar came over to Sanchez’s pickup truck and attacked him. He was later cleared of all charges.

The lawsuit claims three lawmen, including former Sheriff Rene Rivera, violated his civil rights.

Rivera told KRQE-TV he’s been asked by his attorneys not to comment.

7:01am 11/4/12 — Judge Dismisses Case Against Ex-Marine: Judge finds no probable cause to bind Luke Sanchez of Los Chavez over for trial.

Journal Staff Report

A former Marine charged with the shooting death of a suspected burglar walked out of court Wednesday morning a free man. Magistrate Judge Danny Hawkes dismissed all charges against 38-year-old Luke Sanchez of Los Chavez after finding there was no probable cause to bind him over for trial.

“After reviewing all evidence presented to this court and to the judge the murder statue or the voluntary manslaughter statute are not amenable with out first looking at the statute of justifiable homicide by a citizen or the statue of excusable homicide. Therefore the court finds no probable cause exists in homicide charge or the voluntary manslaughter charge. Therefore the defendant is discharged and all charges are dismissed,” Hawkes said in court Wednesday.

Sanchez had been charged with the July 4 shooting death of Gary Gabaldon, 29. Sanchez claimed he shot Gabladon in self-defense after finding Gabaldon and another man burglarizing Enchantment Propane north of Belen.

The prosecution accused Sanchez of playing “police officer” and likened the incident to a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon with the cat chasing the mouse, the cat being Sanchez.

The defense argued that the prosecution had failed to present a prima facie case, and hadn’t established probable cause. Listen to 911 Call