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Updated at 6:00am — Socorro Fight Promoter Acquitted

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Curry County jury finds James Burleson not guilty in 2007 shooting death of Tucumcari man.

A Curry County jury late last week found Socorro fight promoter James Burleson not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the February 2007 shooting death of 31-year-old Jason Pacheco of Tucumcari, according to a Quay County Sun story reprinted in Socorro’s El Defensor Chieftain.

Jurors deliberated about four hours before reaching their verdict on Thursday, the Sun said.

“Sometimes the system works,” Burleson’s attorney Lee Deschamps said following the verdict. “I am glad that this is one of those times.”

Investigators said Pacheco and Burleson were on their way to the Apollo Gym in Tucumcari on Feb. 1, 2007, when they met on the sidewalk and got into a fight, the Sun said.

Burleson was able to get to the console of his vehicle and grab a handgun, which was knocked out of his hand but later retrieved and fired point blank into Pacheco’s chest, killing him, according to court records.

“I am sorry for his mother and his children,” Burleson said of Pacheco’s family after the trial. “I am sorry that this ever happened. I am just glad that this is over.”

10:25am 7/25/08 — New Prosecutor Assigned in Tucumcari Death Case: Socorro fight promoter to be tried by Bernalillo Co. DA in Fort Sumner before a Clovis judge.

The state’s case against Socorro fight promoter James Burleson, who is accused in the Feb. 1, 2007 death of Tucumcari fighter Jason Pacheco, has taken another twist with the assignment of the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque to prosecute the case, the Quay County Sun reported.

State District Judge David Reeb, who is from Clovis, ordered the reassignment after finding the “possibility of the appearance of impropriety” in leaving the prosecution to the Quay County District Attorney’s Office, the Sun reported.

Burleson, 33, is accused of second-degree murder for shooting the 31-year-old Albert “Jason” Pacheco, a fighter and promoter, after to two allegedly got into a fight as both were on their way to a weigh-in at Tucumcari’s Apollo Gym, according to earlier reports.

Burleson has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot Pacheco in self-defense after Pacheco and four others jumped him on Tucumcari’s Main Street, it has been reported.

And Burleson’s attorney, Lee Deschamps, has said his client should never have been prosecuted in the first place, arguing that law enforcement agencies who investigated the shooting initially called the shooting self-defense.

The trial was moved last December from Quay County to De Baca County because of the notoriety of the case in Tucumcari, but a trial date hasn’t been scheduled yet, the Quay County Sun reported.

8:35am 2/21/08 — Promoter’s Attorney Tries To Get DA Disqualified: Lawyer: Socorro fight promoter shouldn’t have been prosecuted for 2007 death.

The attorney for Socorro mixed-martial arts promoter James Burleson, accused in the 2007 death of a Tucumcari man, is seeking to have the Quay County district attorney disqualified from the case, the Quay County Sun reported.

Lee Deschamps, a Socorro attorney who is defending Burleson, said the Quay County District Attorney’s Office should be disqualified because law enforcement agencies that looked into the Feb. 1, 2007 shooting death of Jason Pacheco didn’t believe a crime was committed, but that prosecutors went ahead and filed the complaint three months later, the Sun reported.

Deschamps said the District Attorney’s Office was representing themselves and not the state of New Mexico, creating a conflict of interest, the Sun reported.

The lead detective for the New Mexico State Police who testified at a preliminary hearing in the case last year said each of the elements of self-defense was present when Pacheco was shot and killed, Deschamps argued.

“The District Attorney’s Office has an ethical responsibility not to prosecute, as a crime, conduct that is not criminal but is, in fact, justified under the law,” Deschamps said.

But Quay County District Attorney Len Walker said, “There are no grounds that we know of that would disqualify this office from prosecuting this case,” the Sun reported.

Burleson had been in Tucumcari last February to promote a mixed-martial arts event at the Tucumcari Convention Center when he and Pacheco got into an argument on the way to a “weigh-in” at a downtown gym, according to court records.

Prosecutors say Burleson either unlawfully killed Pacheco without justification or excuse — second-degree murder — or that he unlawfully killed Pacheco “without malice,” the Sun reported.

Burleson has claimed he shot Pacheco in self-defense.

Late last year, the trial was moved to DeBaca County because of the notoriety of the case in Quay County and the anticipated difficulty in finding an impartial jury, the Sun reported.