Man facing arson charges in Portales double homicide case

Crime

PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – Five years after the double homicide of two people in Portales, a second indictment has been placed on Gerardo Marquez. Back on March 16, 2016, 31-year-old Christina Winters-Griffin and 39-year-old John “JJ” Bustamante were shot and killed and their remains were found in a house that was set on fire.


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According to a police report, Marquez had a disagreement with Bustamante and the two began to argue. Afterward, a man who was with Marquez, Jose Zapata, shot and killed Bustamante and Winters-Griffin, according to the 9th Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb.

“We believe that Jose Zapata was the shooter in this double homicide and that Gerardo Marquez was with him and then Gerardo Marquez burned the house with him and helped destroy the evidence,” Reeb said.

Marquez then aided Zapata in setting the house on fire. He is facing arson and tampering with evidence charges. Zapata is charged with the murders and is in the Roosevelt County Detention Center awaiting trial.

Reeb’s office believes there may be a connection between the double homicide and the murder of Marquez’s former girlfriend Erica Zamorano, who was killed in 2018. Police reports state that Zamorano knew of Marquez’s involvement in the double murder and threatened to tell authorities when the couple fought.

“We believed that he possibly killed this Erica Zamorano, a few years back too because she had information about the murder and he was trying to get rid of her for that reason,” Reeb said.

Reeb, says these past few years have been hard, and that she can finally give some justice for the victims’ families after a key witness has stepped forward to aid in the case.

“It seemed senseless and it was a double homicide obviously and to actually now get down to a point where we’ve got two people arrested for it and we really know what happened. It kind of brings some closure to the families and also our investigators and everybody who has worked this case,” Reeb says.

Marquez is currently serving a 20 years sentence for the second-degree murder of Zamorano. He could be facing an additional 18 years for the arson charge. Jose Zapata is scheduled to go to trial for the double murder in December.

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