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Witness Says He, Brother Weren’t Armed Night of Killing

SANTA FE, N.M. — The older brother of a 24-year-old man shot to death outside apartments off Siringo Road near Santa Fe High School two years ago testified Monday that neither of the brothers was armed with a gun the night of the killing, which apparently stemmed from a broken car window and romantic entanglements.

A state District Court jury trial for Russell Harris, 34, on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of Julian Cordova started Monday before Judge Mary Marlowe-Sommer.

Harris’ defense lawyer suggested during cross-examination that Julian Cordova had a gun when he and Harris argued in the parking lot outside apartments at 2110 Rancho Siringo on Sept. 26, 2010.

Ray Twohig, the lawyer, has maintained that the shooting was in self-defense.


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But Marcos Cordova, 29, testified that “my brother never had a gun and neither did I.”

Marcos Cordova told Twohig from the stand that if he’d had a gun that night, “you’d be my lawyer, not his,” referring to Harris.

Marcos Cordova on Monday described, as he had at a preliminary hearing last year, how his brother on that night apparently got caught up in feud between Marcos Cordova and Harris.

At the time of the shooting, Harris was in a relationship with a woman whom Marcos Cordova had once dated, Tanya Deaguero. Marcos Cordova and Deaguero have children together. Harris and Marcos Cordova had known each other for years.

In the days before the shooting, Deaguero came to the Cordovas’ apartment and tried to give Marcos $500 she said she’d stolen from Harris to help pay for the children’s care. Marcos Cordova testified Monday that he told the woman he didn’t need Harris’ money. He said he cracked the windshield of Harris’ car, which Deaguero was driving, with his arm after she swerved the car at him.

After that, Cordova testified, Harris threatened to come after Marcos or his car unless Marcos paid for the damages.

The night of the shooting, Marcos heard Julian and Harris arguing in the parking lot outside the Cordovas’ apartment.

Julian said something about agreeing to fight Harris, but Harris fired three shots instead, Marcos testified. He ran down the apartment building stairs and met his injured brother, who died later at the hospital.


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Marcos Cordova said he fled the scene, at his injured brother’s suggestion. Julian, while shot and bleeding from wounds to his leg and bicep, reminded Marcos that he had outstanding warrants for traffic violations, so Marcos left so he wouldn’t get arrested, Marcos said. He said he didn’t want to be in jail for his brother’s funeral.

Marcos Cordova ended up in the Las Acequias neighborhood, several miles away from the shooting scene. There, bullets again were fired.

Marcos Cordova said Tuesday that he didn’t have a gun on him at that time, either, and that he got shot in the buttocks while he was stting in a vehicle with acquaintances.

Twohig suggested during cross examination that Marcos Cordova had a gun during this second round of gunfire and fired shots himself, which Marcos denied.

Twohig also attacked Marcos’ testimony for inconsistencies in his version of events as the case has proceeded over the past two years – about whether he actually saw his brother shot or only heard the shots, for example.

Twohig also reminded Marcos that he had testified previously that he had used a rock, not just his arm, to break the car windshield when Deaguero showed up with money she said she’d stolen from Harris and that during the preliminary hearing last year, he used a racial slur to refer to Harris, who is African-American.

Cordova acknowledged there “may have been a rock in my hand” when the car window was broken and said he used the racial slur out of anger over being in court and “looking at the man who killed my brother.” He denied threatening to kill Harris.

The jury trial is expected to continue another two days.