By Sharna Johnson
CNJ STAFF WRITER
A witness described seeing his coworker beat a 51-year-old Tucumcari truck driver to death with a rock on the side of the road after the two had an argument in the early morning hours Thursday.
The witness, an employee of a Roswell milk testing company, said he, Brandon Barela and Ronnie Hittson had left a Clovis bar together and, “went to score some dope”, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Curry County Magistrate Court.
The witness said they were drove a long way and had turned back toward Clovis when Barela and Hittson began arguing and Hittson asked him to stop the truck so he could walk.
The man told police when he stopped, Barela got out with Hittson and, “went off and started beating the guy with a rock”, then got back in the truck covered in blood, the affidavit said.
Hittson’s body was found at State Road 523 and Sugarbeet Road by a passing truck driver just before 7 a.m. Thursday.
According to the affidavit, Hittson had sustained major injuries to his face and his features were unrecognizable.
The only identifying article found with the body was a key chain engraved with the words, “To Ron with love from Katlyn”. It was later discovered the keys fit the locks to a parked semi-truck left near a hotel on Mabry Drive.
The truck was traced back to Hittson.
The witness who was with Barela and Hittson at the time of the beating, told police he and Barela went back to their hotel after the incident, but later returned to the area where they had left Hittson. He said Barela wanted him to get out of the truck and, “help him” but when he refused, Barela punched him in the face and they went back to their hotel.
Another coworker who was sharing a hotel room with Barela and had returned from the bars earlier, said the 24-year-old woke him in the early morning hours, his clothes covered in blood, and told him, “You need to help me, we (messed) him up”.
The coworker said he told Barela to get away from him and went back to sleep but the next morning, he said Barela showed him a wallet he said belonged to Hittson and told him he had “hit the truck driver with a rock and then had run over him with the truck”, the affidavit said.
Barela and three other employees of a Roswell milk testing company met Ronnie Hittson at Webbs Watering Hole in Clovis the night he was killed.
Security footage at the Mabry Drive bar showed the group leaving together just before 1 a.m. Thursday and an interview with a bartender at Clovis City Limits revealed the group had turned up there around 1 a.m. and was later asked to leave.
According to the affidavit, blood was found in Barela’s Clovis hotel room and witnesses told investigators the clothing Barela was wearing the night of the homicide was taken to his residence in Dexter.
Barela is being held a the Curry County Adult Detention Center on a $500,000 bond after he was arrested in Roswell Friday and charged with an open count of murder.
He was already in the custody of Roswell police being questioned on an unrelated matter at the time of his arrest, the affidavit said.
Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said previously there could be more arrests in connection with the slaying.