Socorro County Courthouse

Socorro County Courthouse

It was one year ago this month that an altercation in the parking lot of High Country Lodge in Magdalena resulted in the shooting death of Stuart Gordon, a part-time handyman at the motel. After numerous motions and re-schedulings, the case against Jo Hill will go to trial on August 31.

Hill, 39, of San Antonio, Texas, pleaded not guilty to the charge of first degree murder at his initial arraignment in June, 2019. The first degree murder charge stems from the fatal shooting of Gordon at the High Country on May 13, 2019. At his preliminary hearing, Hill, 39, a lodger at the motel, was found by the Magistrate Judge to have acted in a premeditated manner when he fired five rounds at Gordon, 30, of Lincoln, Nebraska. According to the pathologist’s testimony, Gordon was shot five times; twice in front and three times in the back.

The prosecution’s key witness to the incident at the hearing was Lori Scholes, acting manager at the High Country Lodge, who testified that she was speaking with Hill, who had been staying at the motel for several weeks, when Gordon approached them and threw Hill to the ground.

A witness testified that Gordon, who was much larger than the other man, pinned Hill down in the parking lot and started punching him repeatedly in the face and head.

Within moments of the beating, HIll retrieved a pistol from his vehicle and fired at Gordon, according to witnesses’ testimony.

Magdalena Marshal Michael Zamora and Deputy Dylan Coslin responded and secured the scene. New Mexico State Police conducted the investigation.

There were no witnesses for the defense at the preliminary hearing.

The case was initially scheduled to be heard in the court of Seventh District Judge Mercedes Murphy on January 27, but has been reassigned to District Judge Shannon Murdock.

Prosecuting attorney for the District Attorney’s office is Ronald Vincent LoLordo.

Hill is being represented by defense attorney Benjamin Michael Smith.