CLOVIS, N.M. — A woman who was 15 in 2003 when a Clovis, New Mexico, man was gunned down said her testimony in a murder trial 14 years later provided her with closure.
Telia Vancleave of Benton, Louisiana, testified Wednesday that she kept silent about the killing of Jessie Clyde “J.C.” Tucker partly because she was afraid of defendant William Wilbur Hadix, whom she regarded back then as her godfather, the Eastern New Mexico News reported .
Vancleave said she saw Hadix enter Tucker’s storage business, point a gun at Tucker and demand money before she ran off after hearing a loud bang.
Authorities allege Hadix stole more than $2,500 from Tucker.
Now 69, Hadix is charged with first-degree-murder and other crimes. He was arrested in 2015 in Illinois’ Cumberland County where he’d moved from Clovis soon after the 2003 killing.
Court documents state Vancleave’s brother, Cory, said in July 2015 that Hadix said he killed Tucker and that Hadix asked Van Cleave to destroy the gun used in the killing.
Vancleave testified she was receiving no special compensation or deals from prosecutors in exchange for testimony.
“The benefit of testifying today is closure for me,” she said, “to move forward with my life.”
She said she went with Hadix to Tucker’s business and was told to stay in the car while Hadix went inside.
However, she said she “had a bad feeling,” and approached the building and saw Hadix standing with a pistol in his hand in front of Tucker as she peered inside the ajar door
“Just give me the money, do as I say and nothing will happen,” she recalled hearing Hadix tell Tucker.
Vancleave said something startled Hadix and she next heard a loud bang, prompting her to run back to the car and “and lay down like nothing happened.”
She said she told a sheriff’s investigator in 2010 that she’d stayed in the car and hadn’t heard any gunshots.
“I didn’t let everything out because I was scared,” she said Wednesday.
“Even when you were in Louisiana, married, and well over 1,000 miles from where Mr. Hadix was?” asked defense attorney Gary Mitchell.
“Yes sir,” she replied. “I was frightened for my family’s life and my life if I said anything about anything.”
Vancleave said she finally gave her complete story in 2016, after Hadix’s arrest and following prodding from a brother “about coming forward with the truth.”