By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
After four years of court proceedings that included a retracted plea and suppressed confession, Muziwokuthula Madonda pleaded no-contest Tuesday to second-degree murder in the deaths of two Tucumcari men.
Madonda, a South Africa native, entered the pleas for the March 24, 2011, slayings of Gabriel Baca, 37, and Bobby Gonzales, 57, before District Judge Albert J. Mitchell.
He faces up to 24 years in prison.
As part of the plea, Madonda also agreed to waive his rights of extradition to Ohio, where he is charged in two additional homicides, said Tim Rose, Tenth Judicial District Attorney.
Rose said the families of Baca and Gonzales wanted this stipulation included in any plea agreement offered to Madonda. He said the families of the Tucumcari victims want the families of the Ohio victims to finally have closure after all these years.
“The families did not want Madonda’s appearance in Ohio courts to face justice to be prolonged by further legal proceedings,” Rose said.
Rose asked that the sentencing be done at a later date to enable the victims’ families to have time to speak to the court.
Mitchell said sentencing will take place in December, with a status hearing in the next 10 days to determine where the state and defense stand.
Mitchell advised Madonda that, because he is not a U.S. citizen, his agreeing to the plea deal would impact his legal status and most likely will result in his deportation upon completion of his sentence.
Baca and Gonzales were shot to death in the bathroom of a Tucumcari Inn motel room at 1700 E. Route 66 Blvd. An autopsy revealed that Baca was shot in the chest and Gonzales was shot in the back.
Court records do not provide any information about the motive for the shootings.
Through the course of the investigation, New Mexico State Police learned that Baca and Gonzales had occupied the room next to Madonda’s room.
Three days after the slayings, Madonda was captured without incident by U.S marshals and Texas Rangers at a Denny’s restaurant in Conroe, Texas.
Madonda was extradited back to Quay County in April 2011.
Madonda’s defense attorney, Roger Bargas of Tucumcari, filed a motion to suppress an apparent confession made by his client to Texas Rangers.
The confession was suppressed.
In August 2011, Madonda backed out of a plea agreement he had previously signed, choosing instead to face a jury, officials said.
During the 2011 court proceeding, Madonda was identified as the suspect in two additional homicides that occurred in Ohio in February 2011. Those victims were identified as Jackie Hider of Akron, Ohio, and Zenzele D. Mdadane, a native of South Africa and an acquaintance of Madonda.
Hider was slain Feb. 17, 2011, at her residence on Hampton Ridge Drive in Akron. Hider was shot twice, once in the abdomen and once in the chest.
Mdadane was killed in Dayton, Ohio.