The Hobbs man charged in the shooting death of Yvonne Villalobos in March 2018 pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence, both fourth degree felonies, on Feb. 8.
Jose Acosta, 40, was sentenced to 18 months, enhanced by four years for being a habitual offender, followed by a year of parole, for the involuntary manslaughter charges. For the tampering with evidence charges, Acosta faces 18 months, followed by one year of parole. Acosta received credit for pre-sentence confinement and will serve the remainder of his time of two years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections, followed by two years of parole.
According to the Hobbs Police Department criminal complaint, Acosta was charged after police found Villalobos unresponsive in a vehicle on the 1700 block of East Marland. Villalobos was taken to a local hospital where she later died.
The criminal complaint states one of the witnesses to the incident told police the shooting was accidental.
“(The witness) advised Acosta held the firearm out the front passenger window and attempted to fire a round,” the complaint reads. “(The witness) stated the weapon did not fire, even after the second attempt. (The witness) reported Acosta put the firearm in his lap, removed the magazine and the firearm discharged.”
Villalobos was shot in the back, bleeding and had trouble breathing when she was found, the criminal complaint states.
The witness told police he drove to a relative’s home, located on the 1700 block of east Marland for help and went back to check on the vehicle. Once the witness got to the location where the vehicle was parked, the witness stated he saw Acosta was with another man removing items from the vehicle. Acosta and the other man had already left by the time police arrived.
Hobbs police and Lea County sheriff ’s deputies responded to the location at around 8:25 p.m., and found Villalobos.
Acosta was also charged in the 2019 theft of an RV, where he was found in possession of a firearm, five ounces of methamphetamine, and a stolen RV. Acosta was charged with trafficking a controlled substance, to wit methamphetamine, receiving or transferring stolen property, and possession of a firearm by a felon, all of which were dismissed.
Acosta was also involved in an officer-involved shooting just a few days after he was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
According to New Mexico State Police, Hobbs police went to a North Coleman residence on March 26 to serve a warrant on Acosta. Acosta allegedly fled the home and got into a vehicle. Hobbs police officer Isidro Mora gave commands for Acosta to exit the vehicle, but those were ignored and Acosta “accelerated rapidly” towards Mora.
“Officer Mora thought he was about to be run over and fired shots, striking the vehicle,” NMSP stated. “Mr. Acosta lost control of the vehicle and drove into an electric pole and a fence. The vehicle became disabled and Mr. Acosta was taken into custody without further incident.”
No officers were injured, while Acosta suffered “minor injuries” and received treatment at the scene.
Acosta was not charged in this incident.