Albuquerque KOAT links:
Man Guilty In Double Murder Trial
Testimony Wraps Up In Double Murder Case
Key Ruling In Musacco Double Homicide Case
Still No Trial For 2-Year-Old Case
||Albuquerque Journal coverage:
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Let's Try Seeing With Our Hearts
By Jim Belshaw,
Of the Journal
A few days after Nancy Parker Davidson and Linda Gilkey were shot to death in their car in the early hours of New Year's Day on I-40 and Carlisle, I read in the Journal that the two women were "always willing to help."
Davidson, 56, was a psychologist who volunteered at a treatment program for homeless women. Gilkey, 47, once worked at a nursing home. Their own home was filled with abandoned animals.
A friend of theirs wrote to me that same day and said, "They were a couple."
They had just bought a house and moved in, the place still in boxes, the way houses are when you've just moved in. The friend said they were crazy in love and would have gotten married in New Mexico if the state didn't prohibit it.
That same day, an e-mail came from Martha Trolin in San Jose, N.M. She served on the board of the New Mexico Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance with Nancy Parker Davidson in the early '90s.
"In all the years of civil rights work that I have done, I have come to see that is the accurate portrayal of our lives that most helps people to understand that we are human stories of families, struggles and victories, just like everyone else," she wrote. "Only it's harder because we don't have the same rights and protections available to other couples and families."
A man wanted for questioning in a Texas homicide was arrested in the deaths of the women. Police think he shot them in a rage because he believed they caused him to crash in the snow and ice that covered the city: one more man with a gun and a complaint.
When I finished reading the Journal story and the e-mails that day, I went about the usual Internet routine and read newspapers from around the country. I saw a piece in the Washington Post on the schism in the Episcopalian church.
A conservative cleric ran a familiar buzz phrase up the interview flagpole— "homosexual lifestyle." It is something of a propaganda standby, often called into service with its rhetorical cousin— "the homosexual agenda."
The phrases are bandied about easily, as most empty, meaningless phrases are. I thought about them Monday morning at Nancy Parker Davidson's funeral, and again Monday afternoon at Linda Gilkey's funeral.
Davidson liked to be called "Parker." Near her casket was a tennis racket and skis and a down vest. There was a photo of her, a woman with a warm smile and welcoming eyes.
There was laughter in the chapel, because you can't celebrate a life without laughter.
There was silence, too, the kind that comes in the face of a nightmare, the kind that causes you to stare into space, searching for understanding, searching for a why.
The chapel was standing-room only. The talk was of love and loss.
That afternoon, at Linda Gilkey's funeral, Debbie Kuidis stood at the microphone and said, "She had such a gentle spirit."
Linda's brother said Parker had brought happiness to his sister. People spoke often of that happiness. They used a word— "joy"— that you don't often hear. I don't know why. You just don't.
Throughout each funeral, I thought about the gulf separating the realities of these lives from the easy slurs of those who would condemn them with such ease and certitude.
I thought about the tears and laughter of friends and family, the repeated references to love, and it kept crashing into the mythology of intolerance.
The gap between the reality and the myth is groundless, irrational, and I doubt that I'll ever see it closed. Maybe we don't have it in us to close it.
Linda Gilkey's memorial card had a picture of her on the front, head thrown back in a laugh, her two dogs on either side of her. Inside were words she found in a fortune cookie: "You always see better with your heart."
It's a place to start.
||Friday, March 20, 2009
Killer May Never See Texas Justice
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger,
Journal Staff Writer
Cheers rose and tears fell in an Albuquerque courtroom two weeks ago when Beau Musacco was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of two women in the snowy, early moments of New Year's Day 2007.
More than 300 miles away in Lubbock, an unrelated group of family and friends wept and roared as well, heartened by the conviction of a man they have never met but despise just the same.
They despise a lot of things. Because they fear that what happened in Albuquerque may be as close to justice as they'll get.
Three months before Nancy Parker Davidson, 56, and Linda Gilkey, 47, were gunned down in what probably was an unprovoked case of road rage, authorities believed Musacco was already a killer.
In the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 20, 2006, the body of Antonio Aguilar Jr. lay crumpled in the roadway of a quiet residential neighborhood in Lubbock.
Police initially thought the 26-year-old general laborer and father of three had been the victim of a hit-and-run. But an autopsy revealed he had been killed with a bullet to the brain.
It took about two weeks for police to name Musacco as the suspect, six months before he was indicted on one count of murder for Aguilar's death.
By then it was too late.
"We often wonder what would have happened if everyone here had gotten things done faster," Irene Perez, Aguilar's older sister, says in a phone call from Lubbock. "We often wonder whether those two women in Albuquerque would have had to die."
And they wonder whether they will ever see Musacco stand trial for the death of Aguilar, a man they say was kind and generous, always smiling and always proud to be a dad.
"He loved his kids, oh my goodness," Perez says. "He was just something else, and then to be taken away ..."
She cannot finish the thought. But who could?
They've heard a few scenarios about what happened that morning: Aguilar was killed in Musacco's jealous rage over a woman; Aguilar was killed when he reached in his pocket for a cell phone but Musacco feared it was a gun.
Aguilar was killed, like Davidson and Gilkey, for absolutely no good reason.
"The prosecutors don't tell us anything," Perez says.
Family members say they haven't been told what, if any, connection Musacco had to Aguilar. They haven't been told whether the gun used to kill Davidson and Gilkey is the one that killed Aguilar.
But it's what Perez claims prosecutors do say that is of particular offense.
Family members allege prosecutors have told them it's pointless for Musacco to be returned to Texas to stand trial for Aguilar's death because New Mexico has already seen to it that Musacco will never be a free man — and because Aguilar was who he was.
"They tell us my brother wasn't a young child or a fireman or a cop or some person of stature, so his murder apparently isn't worth anything," Perez says. "What they are saying is my brother's death is a free kill."
But Lubbock County Assistant District Attorney Tray Payne says the family may have misunderstood. What he was explaining, he says, is why Musacco would likely not be eligible for the death penalty under Texas statute.
Yes, even in Texas, the state that has executed more convicted killers than the next six highest states combined.
It pains him, he says, that Texas authorities were unable to pull a case together against Musacco fast enough to prevent what happened in New Mexico.
Justice, he says, takes time.
Even now, it's too soon to know how the Aguilar case will play out, Lubbock County District Attorney Matthew Powell says.
"I can tell you we haven't made up our mind what we're going to do on that case," he says. "We wanted to see what was going to happen to him there in New Mexico. We'll evaluate that, speak with the family and then decide."
Our District Attorney's Office says that it has had contact with Lubbock but that nothing concerning extraditing Musacco has been decided.
Also, the New Mexico courts aren't quite done with Musacco. He won't be sentenced until May 29, though it's a foregone conclusion he will get two mandatory life terms. And then there's the matter of three outstanding charges of aggravated battery on a peace officer against Musacco involving two separate allegations of his not playing nice in jail.
So Aguilar's family waits.
They are considering writing a letter to state District Judge Ross Sanchez before he sentences Musacco for the Davidson-Gilkey murders.
A spokesman for the District Attorney's Office here says the agency would be willing to assist the family in making sure a letter gets to where it needs to go.
"We absolutely believe anybody from the community can weigh in on this case, and that would include the family of another potential victim," Pat Davis says.
Perez says her family would also love to stand beside the families of Davidson and Gilkey when Musacco is sentenced. They know, more than anyone can, what those families have endured.
They know that in some small way it will be their justice, too. And perhaps that will have to be enough for now.
Guilty Verdict in Double Murder Saturday, March 07, 2009
By Olivier Uyttebrouck,
Journal Staff Writer
Family and friends of two women found shot to death on New Year's Day 2007 cheered loudly Friday as a judge read guilty verdicts against Beau Musacco on two counts of first-degree murder.
Musacco, 34, looked straight ahead and showed little emotion as Bernalillo County District Judge Ross Sanchez announced a jury had found him guilty on four felony counts — two counts of murder, and one each of tampering with evidence and concealing his identity.
Linda Gilkey and Nancy Parker Davidson were shot to death in Gilkey's sport utility vehicle near the Carlisle overpass at Interstate 40.
Sentencing has been set for May 29.
"Linda's family does feel a certain sense of relief for the moment," Chase Mayhew, Gilkey's brother-in-law, said minutes after the verdicts were announced. "I don't think the family will ever find closure."
Mayhew said the trial did not provide family members with a motive or explanation for the slayings.
"Only Beau (Musacco) knows that, and he's not saying," Mayhew said.
Sanchez ordered quiet in the courtroom when his reading of the first guilty verdict brought cheers and applause from about 30 people. Many began weeping as the verdicts were read.
A fresh snowfall provided police with their initial lead in the case when officers found footprints and blood near a gold Mercedes on the westbound offramp of I-40.
The footprints led police to a nearby EconoLodge, where they arrested Musacco. According to court records. Musacco, of Coachella, Calif., was visiting Albuquerque with his girlfriend to celebrate the new year.
The couple booked a room at the EconoLodge.
Assistant District Attorney Hubert "Troy" Gray said jurors were convinced by "overwhelming evidence of his guilt."
Trial Begins in Double Slaying Case Wednesday, March 04, 2009
By Scott Sandlin,
Journal Staff Writer
A callout about a possible fatal accident took field officers from the Albuquerque Police Department to Interstate 40 and Carlisle in the dark, cold first hour of New Year's Day 2007.
But as Officer Dawne Roberto recalled Tuesday as a murder trial got under way, it was clearly not a traffic accident when she peered into the dark green Ford Explorer about 1 a.m. Clearly affected by the memory, Roberto said she saw the vehicle doors still open, Christmas presents scattered on a seat, a bloody handprint on the back of the driver's seat and two bloodied victims.
The victims, Linda Gilkey and Nancy Parker Davidson, had been shot.
There was virtually no damage to the vehicle — just a streak suggesting a sideswipe — which sat in a median on Carlisle NE on the I-40 overpass.
Another officer who responded to the call spotlighted a stalled gold Mercedes on the westbound off-ramp to see if it had anyone inside it. It didn't. But Officer Jesse Becton said he moved the light pole, which was obstructing the ice-slicked road.
He saw footprints but couldn't tell how many people had gotten out of the vehicle.
Those tracks in the snow are the centerpiece in the trial of Beau Musacco, 34, charged with felony murder and first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and concealing his identity when he was arrested later that day at the adjacent EconoLodge.
Assistant District Attorney Hubert "Troy" Gray told jurors hearing the case before Judge Ross Sanchez that the evidence will show police found blood drops alongside the footprints that DNA analysis linked to Musacco.
SWAT officer Russell Carter tracked two sets of footprints, eventually finding that one set led across a triangular field and up an embankment to a wall enclosing the hotel. The wall had disturbed snow and blood drops.
Other officers found blood on a door handle on a second-story hotel room and detained the occupants, Musacco and his girlfriend. In the room, Carter concluded boots found there had made the impressions in the snow.
James Loonam, who represents Musacco, told jurors in his opening statement that they should look critically at the evidence, including the second set of footprints leaving the Ford "as if someone had gotten out and gone away."
"Motive is not something the state needs to present evidence on," he said. "But you need to determine not just what happened but how it happened and why it happened."
Judge: No Warrant Needed for Boots Search Saturday, February 14, 2009
By Scott Sandlin,
Journal Staff Writer
A police officer tracking footprints through the snow after a New Year's Day 2007 double homicide wasn't required to get a search warrant to examine boots in an Econo Lodge room, a judge ruled Friday.
District Judge Ross Sanchez rejected a defense motion to suppress the evidence because he said it met the test of "exigent circumstances" — an emergency in which life or evidence was endangered or a suspect was in danger of escape.
The argument that the bootprint comparisons should be tossed — and by extension, that the subsequent arrest and DNA collection were faulty — was advanced by attorneys for murder defendant Beau Musacco.
Musacco, 34, is charged in the slayings of Linda Gilkey and Nancy Parker Davidson in what police speculate was a road-rage incident on Interstate 40 near Carlisle.
Albuquerque Police Department SWAT team member Russell Carter, usually a canine handler, was tapped for his expertise in tracking footprints after the bodies of the women were found inside a blue SUV about 1:30 a.m.
Snow was still falling when Carter arrived at the scene. He followed two sets of prints. The second set led above the highway ramp to a stucco wall with blood on it and fresh snow knocked off.
Other officers worked on securing the parking lot and discovered blood leading to a covered staircase where there were no longer any footprints.
Police had removed Musacco and his girlfriend from a second-floor room when Carter was told to go in and look at the wet boots inside.
Assistant District Attorney Hubert "Troy" Gray said the situation was fluid, police had discovered a discarded firearm in the snow and Carter had an urgent need to see the boot to know if he should keep searching for the perpetrator.
Trial in the case is scheduled to begin March 2.
Murder Suspects Seek Transfers Monday, June 9, 2008
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger,
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
One high-profile murder defendant is fighting his way into prison, while another is fighting his way out.
Both defendants— Beau Musacco, awaiting trial in the 2007 New Year's shooting death of two female motorists, and Michael Paul Astorga, awaiting trial in the March 2006 shooting death of a sheriff's deputy— say they have been poorly treated while in custody and should be moved; their conditions improved; or, in Astorga's case, the murder charges dropped altogether.
Defendants such as Musacco and Astorga are typically housed pending trial at the Metropolitan Detention Center, which is operated by Bernalillo County.
Astorga, however, is already in prison. Three months after his arrest on a charge of first-degree murder in the March 2006 shooting death of Bernalillo County sheriff's Deputy James McGrane Jr., Astorga agreed to be placed in the maximum security lockdown at the Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe.
Authorities have said the restrictive placement was necessary because Astorga's prison gang ties endangered his life at MDC.
On Tuesday, Astorga's attorney, Gary Mitchell, is expected to argue that charges against his client— which, upon conviction, could lead to the death penalty— should be dismissed because of the "most stringent, severe, isolated and punishment-oriented manner" in which his client is being held.
Mitchell has repeatedly gone to court to argue for better medical care, food, visitation rights for and accessibility to his client. He has had limited success.
This time, Mitchell contends the situation has grown worse as a result of those efforts and that Astorga, 32, has been denied his right to speak in confidence to his attorney by phone or by letter, in prison or in the courtroom— a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.
The deprivation is so severe that it has rendered Astorga "unable to calmly and openly rationalize and think intelligently about his case," Mitchell said in his motion filed last month.
Corrections spokeswoman Tia Bland said the department "emphatically denies" Astorga's claims but cannot address specifics because of a pending lawsuit— another avenue Mitchell has sought for his client's relief.
If state District Judge Neil Candelaria does not dismiss the charges Tuesday, Mitchell is asking that he immediately order, among other things, Astorga's transfer to a county facility.
In Musacco's case, attorneys have asked for just the opposite.
Last month, public defender Jim Loonam convinced state District Judge Ross Sanchez to order Musacco's transfer from MDC to the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas, a state-run prison.
Musacco sought the transfer because of safety concerns arising from an Aug. 9, 2007, confrontation with corrections officers.
According to court documents, Musacco said he was hit and kicked by three officers because of the "nature of the charges alleged against" him.
Musacco, 33, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Linda Gilkey and Nancy Parker Davidson in what authorities say was an unprovoked case of road rage.
But according to documents filed by Bernalillo County attorneys for MDC, Musacco is the one who kicked two officers as they tried to stop him from flushing what was believed to be marijuana down the toilet.
Musacco was charged with two counts of aggravated battery on a peace officer and tampering with evidence as a result of the attack.
Soon, however, he is expected to be returned to MDC in light of a stay issued May 29 by the state Supreme Court.
The stay was sought by attorneys for the county who argued that the transfer orders did not seek input from the county and did not allow it to present evidence that the move was unwarranted and costly.
The judge, they contended, "rewarded an inmate for illegal behavior by permitting him to choose the place of his incarceration."
Musacco's attorneys have until Wednesday to file a response with the state Supreme Court.
As of late Thursday the Department of Corrections listed Musacco's whereabouts as "other location."
Inmate Charged With 3rd Homicide Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Around the Metro Area
Journal Staff Reports
An inmate in the West Side jail on two murder charges has now been charged in Texas with another killing, according to court records.
On New Year's Day, Beau Musacco, 32, was arrested after he allegedly killed friends Linda Gilkey and Nancy Parker Davidson following an apparent road-rage incident on Carlisle NE.
Last week, a Texas warrant was issued for Musacco stemming from the Oct. 20 shooting of a 26-year-old man in Lubbock.
The man was found lying in the middle of the road.
At the time Musacco was arrested for the Davidson and Gilkey killings, he was the lead suspect in the Lubbock case.
Lubbock authorities on Monday said they had gathered enough evidence to charge him with murder.
They said a witness had come forward saying Musacco and the victim were seen leaving a party together and arguing shortly before the killing.
Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty Monday, January 29, 2007
Journal and Wire Reports
A 32-year-old man accused in the New Year's Day shooting deaths of two women has pleaded not guilty to two open counts of murder.
Beau James Musacco entered his plea Friday in state District Court in Albuquerque. District Judge Ross Sanchez set his bail at $5 million.
Nancy Parker Davidson, 56, and Linda Gilkey, 47, who shared a home in northeast Albuquerque, were shot to death in a sport utility vehicle in what officers say started out as a road rage incident.
Officers had responded to what was originally thought to be a fatal car crash but then found the women shot dead in the vehicle. Police then followed footprints in the snow to a nearby motel, where they arrested Musacco.
Police have said Musacco's car was found a short distance away and appeared to have hit a concrete barrier. Officers believe Musacco blamed the women and ran after their SUV on foot while it was stopped at a traffic light.
Officers also found a handgun in the snow next to a shell casing, according to court documents.
Slain Women's Kin Plan Reception Saturday, January 6, 2007
Journal Staff Report
The families of two women who were killed in an apparent road-rage incident will host a joint reception open to the public after the funerals Monday.
Linda Gilkey and Nancy Parker Davidson were shot to death early New Year's Day in Gilkey's sport utility vehicle on Carlisle near the Interstate 40 ramp. Footprints and blood in the snow led police to a nearby hotel, where they arrested Beau Musacco, 32. The California man faces murder charges.
After Gilkey's 2 p.m. funeral, a reception will be held at Four Hills Country Club, 911 Four Hills SE. Friends say the couple's favorite band will perform and food will be provided.
"This reception is intended to celebrate their lives together amongst the broadest possible community of friends, family and admirers," friends wrote in an e-mail sent to the Journal.
A memorial fund has been set up for both women. Contributions can be made to Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless and Tierra Del Sol at P.O. Box 25445, Albuquerque, N.M., 87125.
Women in Albuquerque Double Homicide Identified
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Albuquerque police have identified two women shot to death in a sport utility vehicle in what officers say started as a road rage incident.
Police identified the victims as Nancy Parker Davidson, 56, and Linda Gilkey, 47, who shared a home in northeast Albuquerque.
Officers early Monday arrested Beau James Musacco, 32, of Coachella, Calif., on two open counts of murder.
Authorities were called around 1:30 a.m. Monday about what originally was thought to be a fatal car crash.
Officers found two women shot dead in the vehicle. Police then followed footprints in the snow to a nearby motel, where they arrested Musacco.
Albuquerque police spokeswoman Trish Hoffman said the man's car was found a short distance away and appeared to have hit a pole. Officers believe the sport utility vehicle might have cut him off prior to the shooting, she said.
"It's safe to say this was a road rage incident,'' Hoffman said.
Officers also found a handgun in the snow next to a shell casing, according to court documents.
Musacco was convicted in California of vehicle theft, and warrant was issued in November 2004 for his arrest on a parole violation, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
Detective Sgt. Jeff Baker of the Lubbock, Texas, police said Musacco is wanted for questioning in a homicide investigation there but that Lubbock police have not issued a warrant for him.
The investigation involves a 26-year-old man found dead in a street. He initially was thought to have died in an accident, but then was found to have been shot in the head, Baker said.