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Weekly Alibi Guitar Player Dead, Wouldn't Stop Singing

By Sue Schuurman

JULY 13, 1998: 

52 Years Ago This Week

In a bizarre case that somehow seems vintage Old West, a guitar-playing New Mexican man met up with two other guitar players one night in a Grants bar and wound up dead hours later. According to the following 1946 Albuquerque Journal article, the three musicians were singing, playing and drinking until the wee hours and later continued the party under a Grants footbridge. But when Juan Sanchez decided he wanted to keep singing, Antonio Moreno picked up a board and wacked him over the head, killing him.

"State Says Guitar Player Murdered. Asst. D.A. at Belen Prepares Charges.

"Charges of murder were being prepared Friday by the district attorney's office against Armenio Moreno, 21, Grants, in connection with the death Thursday of Juan G. Sanchez, 35, itinerant guitar player of Albuquerque and Belen.

"Sanchez died in an ambulance en route to an Albuquerque hospital, after he had been found unconscious beneath a footbridge near Grants.

"District Attorney M. Ralph Brown said the charges of murder are being prepared by Paul Larrazolo, his assistant at Belen, and would be filed in a justice court there. The case would be tried at the fall term of Valencia county District Court at Los Lunas.

"State law does not require a murder charge to designate the degree on which conviction will be asked, but Brown indicated he will seek conviction on only second degree murder charges.

"Brown said Moreno had signed a confession that he struck Sanchez over the head with a piece of 2x4 after an argument. Brown quoted Moreno as stating he and a third man from Grants met Sanchez in a Grants bar Wednesday night where the three, all guitar players, drank and sang until past midnight. Later, Brown said Moreno stated, he and the third man came upon Sanchez under the footbridge, singing beside a fire he had built. After some singing, Moreno wanted to quit but Sanchez wanted to continue, Brown quoted Moreno as saying. The prosecutor quoted Moreno as saying that during the argument he went behind Sanchez, picked up the piece of wood and hit him over the head.

"Moreno and the third man were arrested Thursday by State Police who traced Sanchez' movements of the night before, Brown said.

"An autopsy revealed Sanchez died from two severe blows on the left side of the head."

--compiled by Susan Schuurman

Source: Albuquerque Journal;

July 6, 1946

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