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Jury found Tanner Shoemaker not guilty

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Jury found Tanner Shoemaker not guilty

Christina Holt/News-Sun

A Lea County jury returned a verdict of not guilty for a Hobbs man charged with voluntary manslaughter, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and tampering with evidence.

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Diana Luce said in an email to the News-Sun that on Feb. 12, a jury found Tanner Shoemaker not guilty of all charges due to self-defense.

The trial was held in the Fifth Judicial District Court in Lovington and was presided over by District Judge Efren Cortez.

“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict, but no matter how a verdict turns out in a case like this, we all feel horrible about the loss of human life,” Defense Attorney Doug Jones Witt told the News-Sun, “Mr. Shoemaker was in fear of his life and defending himself in a reasonable way. He has always been remorseful this young man lost his life.”

Shoemaker was arrested on Feb. 5, 2022, and charged in the stabbing death of Sabre Carney, and charged with the stabbing of Oscar Espinoza.

“Our office fought and sought justice for the decedent, Sabre Carney, and surviving victim Oscar Espinoza,” Luce said. “This was a difficult case to prosecute with the defendants claim of self-defense and no functioning cameras in the area where the incident occurred. We thank the jurors for their service and respect the verdict that was reached in deliberation.”

Officers with the Hobbs Police Department and deputies with the Lea County Sheriff’s Department responded to Diamond Lil’s Bar on Sept. 11, 2021 in reference to the stabbing.

Law enforcement found Carney and Espinoza, reportedly suffering from stab wounds to their chests, in the south parking lot of the bar, according to the report.

A witness told law enforcement Shoemaker was escorting a woman to her vehicle, at the time of the incident, according to the report.

Carney and the woman exchanged words inside and outside the bar over a debt the woman allegedly owed Carney, according to the report.

The woman told officers, she tried to walk away from Carney but was attacked by two women. Officers were told Shoemaker tried to intervene but was attacked by Carney and Espinoza.

Espinoza told officers he was with his friends, but Carney was not with him. Espinoza heard the commotion and went to assist Carney.

According to the report, a witness said they saw Shoemaker falling to his knees and covering his head as Carney and Espinoza were reportedly hitting him.

Another witness stated in the report they heard one of the men tell Shoemaker to, “pay your debt. Pay what you owe,” as he was being hit.

Shoemaker reportedly entered the bar after the altercation with blood on his face and was seen exiting the restroom without the shirt he had been wearing most of the night, according to the report.

When officers met with Shoemaker, he had a knife with a black handle in a sheath on his waistband that appeared to have been cleaned off, according to the report.

The report stated Shoemaker told officers he was defending himself.

Shoemaker suffered injuries to his head and face, and was treated and released at Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital.

Carney and Espinoza reportedly both suffered stab wounds to the chest and were taken to Covenant for treatment. Both were airlifted to a Lubbock, Texas where Carney died from the injuries, and Espinoza spent a week in the hospital recovering from injuries.

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