Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Las Cruces 2017 cold case ends in 9-year sentence for manslaughter

LAS CRUCES, NM (KRQE) – Five years after an 18-year-old was killed outside Las Cruces, and two years after new evidence re-opened the cold case, Justin Bullock was sentenced to nine years in prison for the killing.

On August 3, 2017, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a small ditch on the west side of Las Cruces. There, they found the body of an 18-year-old male.

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Relatively quickly, law enforcement latched on to Justin Bullock as someone connected to the victim. Just 12 days after the body was found, the Las Cruces Police Department located Bullock, allegedly hiding in an attic with a cell phone. Police arrested him, claiming that he was trying to hide the phone, which may have contained valuable evidence, according to a criminal complaint filed in magistrate court.

Court documents show that Bullock eventually pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and resisting an officer. After violating probation, he was sent to Doña Ana County Detention Center to serve time.

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Then, years later, investigators were able to reopen the case and use cell phone data to charge Bullock with voluntary manslaughter. In 2020, the investigators conducted a “phone dump” on a cell phone collected in the original investigation. They found pictures of Bullock and Bryanna Terry, an accomplice, wearing some of the victim’s clothes. The phone also revealed that the phone was used to search Google for terms like “Las Cruces Obituaries” and “Las Cruces Police Blotter” in the days after the crime, according to court documents filed by a Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office detective.

Now, Bullock will receive nine years in prison, according to a press release from the Third Judicial District Attorney. Bullock will receive credits for serving nearly a year already, according to a plea agreement.

Law enforcement has also charged Bryanna Terry. A jury trial is currently scheduled for 2023.

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