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Police find person of interest in double homicide on West Side

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The man police are pointing to as a “person of interest” in a West Side double homicide was accused – and later found not guilty – of murder in 2011, according to court documents.

Richard Alan Ross

Richard Alan Ross, 39, was taken into custody by authorities in Oklahoma early Sunday morning, and Albuquerque Police Department homicide detectives were headed there to interview him, APD spokesman Simon Drobik said. Ross has not been named as a suspect or formally charged in the case. He was accused years ago of beating a man to death with a metal chair at an Albuquerque hotel.

The latest case involves a double homicide near Unser and Montaño.

Police announced Saturday that officers conducting a welfare check at a home on Sweetwater NW late Friday found two people dead with “signs of trauma.” Hours later, they said they were looking for Ross, and warned that he “should be considered armed and dangerous.”

Police on Saturday investigate a double homicide in the 6200 block of Sweetwater NW on the city’s West Side Saturday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Drobik said Ross was one of the last people seen with the two victims, whose names have not been released, and when authorities in Oklahoma found him, he was with the victims’ vehicle. An APD alert listed an address for Ross in Haskell County in Oklahoma. The sheriff’s department there wrote in a social media post that they had teamed up with the Eastern District U.S. Marshals Service and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s tactical team in order to arrest Ross on a probation violation warrant out of New Mexico.

That warrant stems from a 2011 homicide case in which Ross faced charges. Court documents show that jurors determined Ross was not guilty of first- and second-degree murder, but they could not agree on a verdict as to voluntary manslaughter and the judge declared a mistrial. But he was convicted on other charges.

Prosecutors declined to retry Ross on the voluntary manslaughter charge, opting to drop the count altogether, documents show.

A Journal story from the time reported that Ross was suspected of beating James Sharpe to death and leaving his body wrapped in sheets.

He was arrested in Grants after crashing Sharpe’s Ford Explorer into a pole and trying to escape on foot.

Sharpe was found dead June 6, 2011, in the Value Place Hotel, on Central near Tramway, in a room Ross leased; a bloody, metal-framed chair was found inside, according to a warrant. Sharpe’s credit card was later discovered in a hotel room Ross had paid for in Grants, along with blood-spattered boots.

Although he was acquitted of murder, jurors convicted Ross of tampering with evidence, stealing a vehicle and stealing credit cards, and he was sentenced to four years in prison and 3½ years of probation, according to court documents.

On Thursday, an order was filed alleging Ross removed his GPS monitor and was accused of absconding.

That same day, an Albuquerque judge issued a warrant for his arrest, which authorities in Oklahoma used to arrest Ross over the weekend.