Man convicted in high profile Taos murder claims evidence against him was flawed

New Mexico

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Witchcraft and spells were part of the case against a Taos man convicted of murdering a woman in 2014. Now, that man claims he never got a fair trial and the evidence was flawed.

Back in December 2014, two hikers and their dog found a human bone and burned bra on Taos’ west mesa. Detectives identified the victim as Roxanne Houston and charged Ivan Cales with the murder.

A jury convicted and sentenced him to life in prison. “I don’t think Ivan did it. I never thought Ivan did it,” says his defense attorney, Tom Clark.

In a handwritten petition, Cales is now claiming he didn’t get a fair trial. Drawings were found in his jail cell while he was awaiting trial. Prosecutors believed the drawings showed he killed Houston because he thought she was a witch who had cast a spell on him.

Cales claims those drawings were only based on a movie he saw at the time. “The idea that someone’s a witch and can cast spells, is not necessarily a mainstream idea. The fact that that testimony was allowed to that effect, made the case bizarre,” says Clark.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe believed it was the interrogation that ultimately convicted Cales who claimed he found the burned bra and a bone.

Cales: “I also found a bone, about that long. A bone about that long. I just kinda [sic] picked it up and looked at it like that, or something. Just dropped it.

Sheriff Hogrefe says all of that information was never made public. “The only way he could’ve known that was to have been involved in it,” he says.

However, Clark still believes the jury convicted the wrong man for Houston’s murder. “I believe there’s somebody out there who murdered this woman and got away scot-free,” he says.

Back in August 2018, Cales appealed his conviction, but the state Supreme Court upheld it. He’s currently being held at the Lea County Correctional Facility.

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