Los Lunas — A Los Lunas man pleaded guilty to several felony charges Monday afternoon in exchange for his testimony in a murder case in which the victim’s decomposing body was found in Socorro County.

Justin Brown, 29, entered into a plea and disposition agreement with the district attorney’s office in which he pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence. Brown, along with five other men, had been indicted last year in connection with the alleged beating death of Ryan Bryant in October, 2000.

Brown is the fourth of the five men indicted to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testimony in the upcoming trial of Robert Huber.

Bryant, who had been reported missing for several months, was found dead last April in Socorro County. A passer-by and his dog found Bryant’s body in a shallow grave while walking on a ditchbank near NM 60.

The body was decomposing and could only be identified through medical records. The Office of the Medical Investigator couldn’t determine the exact cause of death because of the body’s condition, said Valencia County Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant James Purdy.

Rudy Marquez of Belen pleaded guilty several months ago to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit battery and false imprisonment.

In return for his testimony, Lincoln Hill, 27, who had also been indicted on murder charges, pleaded guilty last year to tampering with evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence.

Troy Hibdon, 36, of Peralta, who was indicted last April, pleaded guilty in November to tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence and attempting to manufacture methamphetamines.

Huber, 49, of Belen has been indicted on several charges, including an open count of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence and two counts of bribery of a witness.

According to court documents, Bryant was reportedly seen being beaten by three men in October. A witness told police the victim was beaten because of money he owed for a load of hay.

Huber is currently being held without bond at the Valencia County Adult Detention Center. He is also facing charges of possession of a controlled substance.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.