Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Case closed on deadly break-in, pot farm

—Bill Diven

Prosecutors have closed the case of the fatal shooting during the September break-in at a Placitas home and the subsequent discovery of a marijuana grow.

“There’s no one to prosecute,” District Attorney Lemuel Martinez told the Signpost. “They’re all deceased.”

The middle-of-the-night intruder, James Garcia of Albuquerque, was shot with his own handgun in a struggle with homeowner Mark Richardson. Multiple shots were fired during the altercation, and Garcia died from his wounds. Richardson was not hit by bullets but was hospitalized briefly for other injuries from the fight. He died about two months later from the cancer he was already battling.

Richardson walked with a cane and told investigators he used it to fight off Garcia and take his weapon. Garcia was described as being masked, dressed in black, entering through a second-story window and carrying plastic cable ties that could be used to bind a person’s hands and feet.

While searching Richardson property in southeastern Placitas, investigators found nearly two hundred marijuana plants under cultivation. Richardson was licensed to use marijuana for medical reasons but apparently not to produce it in commercial quantities.

“While he was healing from his injuries, we did sit down and talk with investigators about the intruder found in his house,” attorney Diego Esquibel said. “Any time he referred to his marijuana he referred to it as his medicine.”

Even at the time, it appeared Richardson would not be prosecuted in the shooting, he added. Less clear is whether Richardson would have been prosecuted for the marijuana grow.

“It wasn’t like you had a drug kingpin in the Placitas area,” Esquibel said. “He was a nice man. He kept to himself.”

Richardson also was shaken by the incident for multiple reasons from fearing he was going to die to shooting someone, his attorney said.

Master Composter John Zarola
Photo credit: —Dennis Tani

Xeric Garden Club presents composting workshop

On March 19, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., Master Composter John Zarola will speak about composting basics, which will cover the science, art, materials, methods and benefits of home composting. He will also share his experience with the construction and maintenance of various home-composting systems. Come learn how to improve the fertility of your desert garden soil.

This program will be held at the Albuquerque Garden Center, 10120 Lomas Blvd NE, and admission is free.

For further information, go to

Cyclists will come in all sizes at the Coronado Optimist Club’s Bike Safety Rodeo, March 19, at Rotary Park.

Keep our kids safe

—Suzann Owings

“An important part of keeping our young people safe is having them know the rules of the road and have them ride safe bikes,” said Snow Watson, Coronado Optimist Club member.

The Optimists will host a Bike Safety Rodeo for young cyclists from 10:00 a.m. to noon, on March 19, at Rotary Park in Bernalillo. While the Bike Safety Rodeo specifically targets third graders, all young people and their cycles are welcome.

Participants will learn about road signs and have their riding skills evaluated. Before the skills challenge, adult volunteers will check bike safety—brakes, handle bars, and tires. Other volunteers will distribute and properly size free helmets. At the end of the event, the Optimists will award certificates, medals and prizes.

Optimist International is a community service organization that operates through its local Optimist Clubs of volunteers. The Coronado Optimist Club usually meets at at the Bernalillo Range Cafe on the second Tuesday of the month, at 6:00 p.m. Community members are welcome. For further information, contact Snow Watson at 867-2047, and visit the Coronado Club’s website:

New Mexico Senator John Sapien looks for a pass opportunity.

New Mexico Senator Benny Shendo, Jr. plays for his team

“Hoops 4 Hope” pits Senators against Representatives in a benefit game supporting UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

—Dorothy Hornbeck

State legislators aren’t known for their prowess on the basketball court, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing seriously in the annual “Hoops 4 Hope” game. Legislators of all skill levels play in the hotly-contested game that pits the House “Aggies” against the Senate “Lobos.” The legislators enjoy the game, their constituents enjoy the show, and the annual game raises money for the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center. This year’s game took place on February 11 at Santa Fe High School.

“We are deeply grateful to New Mexico’s legislators for their tremendous and steadfast commitment to fighting cancer in our state,” says Cheryl Willman, MD, CEO and Director of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The ‘Hoops 4 Hope’ event is fun for everyone,” she says, “but it is also an important source of support for the UNM Cancer Center.”

The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of the state of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute designated cancer center in the state. Its stated mission is to offer all New Mexicans access to world-class cancer care and enable them to benefit from advances in cancer research. Last year as part of that mission, it received the highest designation the NCI awards: Comprehensive designation.

The UNM Cancer Center raises money for cancer research and treatment from national and state grant programs and from private donations. The “Hoops 4 Hope” basketball game has been an important source of private donations for more than 17 years. The last five games have raised a total of more than $86,000.

For further information about the event, contact the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center Development Office at 272-4443 or email

All proceeds benefit the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center treats about sixty percent of adults and virtually all the children in New Mexico diagnosed with cancer—more than ten thousand people. Working with partners at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and New Mexico State University, they have developed new diagnostics and drugs for leukemia, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, liver and pancreatic cancer, brain cancer, and melanoma; garnered 33 new patents and 117 patents pending; and launched 13 new biotechnology companies since 2010. Learn more at

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