ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Detailing a story about what Luis Talamantes-Romero did after Jacque Vigil was killed at her Albuquerque home, a friend of Talamantes testified Wednesday morning in the high-profile murder trial. Talamantes is accused of shooting and killing Vigil in November 2019 in the driveway of Vigil’s northwest Albuquerque home.
Karla Aguirre took to the witness stand to start day three of proceedings, the second day of witness testimony. Speaking through interpreters, Aguirre in part testified that Talamantes told her several versions of a story about what happened in the early morning hours of November 19.
Aguirre told jurors Talamantes eventually admitted to shooting Jacque Vigil. After news of the shooting made it out to the public, Aguirre says Talamantes became increasing worried about the killing in the day that followed.
“Did he seem concerned that he had shot this lady?” asked Greer Staley, Deputy Attorney General for the New Mexico AG’s Office. Aguirre responded, “I think he was more concerned, or more worried when he found out she was the mom of policemen.”
Prosecutors have accused Talamantes of shooting and killing Vigil, 55, in the early morning hours of November 19, 2019. Vigil was in the driver’s seat of her car, backing out of her driveway when she was shot in the head. Aguirre testified Wednesday that Talamantes told her he “didn’t know why” he shot Vigil.
Aguirre’s testimony follows testimony from another friend of Talamantes, Isaac Ramirez, who testified Tuesday. Ramirez described being with Talamantes when the shooting happened. Ramirez said he tried to stop Talamantes from attempting to rob Vigil.
While Aguirre said Talamantes was a boyfriend at one point, described having a non-romantic relationship with Talamantes, saying they were friends. In 2019, Both Aguirre and Talamantes lived with Luis Talamantes’ sister at a house on Pacific Avenue in Barelas.
Fleeing to San Antonio, altering the suspect vehicle
Spending hours on the stand Wednesday, Aguirre also described traveling by car to San Antonio, Texas after Vigil was killed. That decision was reached by both Luis and his sister Elizabeth Talamantes, who’s currently in federal prison.
“Why did Luis want to go to San Antonio?” Staley asked Aguirre. She responded, “Fleeing from here.”
“Why?” Staley asked in regards to testimony that Talamantes was fleeing from Albuquerque. “Because of what he did,” Aguirre said.
“What did he do?” Staley asked. Aguirre said, “He took the woman Jacqueline’s life away.”
Talamantes is said to have fled to San Antonio to live with a cousin sometime before Christmas. By January 2020, he was arrested at a jobsite in San Antonio on immigration charges.
Fleeing to San Antonio, Aguirre claims Talamantes’ sister Elizabeth (also known as “Liz” or “Lisa”) drove the car to and from Texas, disposing a gun along the way. Aguirre testified Wednesday that Elizabeth Talamantes disposed of a gun on the drive back from Texas, throwing various parts and pieces in canyons and water ways along the route.
Talamantes’ defense attorney, Kathleen Rhinehart tried to highlight that Aguirre wasn’t sure that the gun they disposed of was used to kill Vigil. She also highlighted that the FBI “promised” to “help” her if she testified in the case. While Rhinehart asked Aguirre if that meant “help” with her and her family’s immigration status, Aguirre clarified that the promise of help was directed at protection against possible reprisal or retaliation for speaking out about the case.
After returning to New Mexico from Texas, Aguirre alleged that Elizabeth Talamantes cleaned the Jeep and made an effort to disguise its appearance. “They changed the tires, they put a grill on top, they washed it completely, they cleaned it,” Aguirre said.
Car burglary victims, police investigators called to witness stand
Jurors heard from six other witnesses Wednesday, including three people who’s cars were burglarized in the overnight hours before Vigil’s murder. Prosecutors allege that Talamantes and his accomplice, Isaac Ramirez, stopped at two westside apartment complexes before Vigil was shot.
Witness Kayla Smith described waking up on the morning of November 19th, 2019 to find her Jeep SUV only had three wheels at the Rio Volcan Apartments. Prosecutors have alleged that Talamantes stole one of Smith’s wheels as a replacement for his vehicle after damaging it by crashing into a curb.
Smith described hearing the news of Vigil’s killing and realizing that the tire theft may have something to do with the case. She then called police again.
“I called a second time,” Smith said. “I found out what type of car it was,” Smith continued, referencing the Jeep that police were looking for in relation to Vigil’s homicide.
Mikayla Gonzales and David Castro-Aragon also testified Wednesday, telling jurors about confronting a burglar in a Jeep outside of their apartment. The pair said they were woken up around 4 a.m. on November 19, before Vigil’s murder, seeing someone rummaging through Castro’s Escalade.
Prosecutors allege that Talamantes-Romero broke into the Escalade at the Mesa Ridge Apartments. Gonzales and Castro said the man they saw breaking into the vehicle asked for a gun when the confronted him.
“[The burglar] was going through his truck, and then when [Castro] yelled at him, you know, ‘get out of my truck,’ he went to the Jeep and [the burglar] said ‘da me la cuete,'” Gonzales said. Talamantes’ alleged accomplice testified to the same story in testimony Tuesday.
Wrapping up testimony for the day, several police witnesses took the stand. Retired APD Sergeant Christopher Enyart described police making the connection between the reported Mesa Ridge Apartments car burglary, and the suspect vehicle description made by Sam Vigil.
“There had been an auto burglary early in the morning,” Enyart said. “They wanted us to respond because the description of the vehicle of in the auto burglary was the same description that was from the homicide scene.”
Jurors also viewed police body camera video from the first arriving officers on the scene and viewed crime scene photos. Thursday’s testimony is expected to continue with an APD Crime Scene Specialist, Detective Andrea Ortiz.
John Duran and Greer Staley are leading the prosecution in the case for the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Kathleen Rhinehart is representing Talamantes as a defense attorney.