A look back at notable cases of 2009

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Los Alamos cases ranged from murder to drug trafficking

By Carol A. Clark

Making no excuses for shooting his wife in the heart last year, Jack Markham pled guilty in May and was convicted of second-degree murder in First District Court.

Assistant District Attorney Karen Snell told the judge that Markham had threatened suicide and his wife moved out two weeks before her murder because she and her friends felt she was threatened by him.

Judge Michael Vigil ordered Markham, 56, to serve 10 years of incarceration. Markham actually received 15 years with five suspended and two years probation following his release, at which time he will be required to pay restitution for his wife’s funeral expenses.

As part of his plea deal, Markham also agreed to allow his collection of rifles and handguns that were found inside his Denver Steel home Aug. 4, the evening he shot and killed his wife Robin Markham, to be destroyed.

Other crimes also occurred in May, when six downtown businesses were robbed overnight. Central Avenue Grill, Bella Cosa Flowers, Gifts & Events, CB Fox, Fox Kidz, Home Run Pizza and Mountainair Cleaners were broken into and the person or persons responsible have yet to be caught.

It appears the thief or thieves gained entry into the establishments by breaking glass windows and doors.

“I’m so glad they just took the money we had in the cash register and didn’t do any vandalizing,” Bella Cosa owner Karen Hawkins said at the time.

In yet another case, Leslie Kathryn Draper who was wanted in two states spent several weeks on the lam before her capture in Albuquerque by Los Alamos police March 31.

The 24-year-old, single mother of two was charged with drug trafficking.

“I never imagined this to get so big — it was just meant to be fun — to hang out,” Draper said during a June 22 jailhouse interview.

She spent two hours describing her loving parents and ideal childhood, how she graduated from a top high school and her acceptance to Duke University.

Draper also detailed a string of “dumb decisions,” she made that have forever altered her life.

“I think it came from that invincibility in high school — that we could do anything we wanted to do and get away with it because we made the grades,” she said. “It was just so fun in high school. It’s not like that anymore and I keep trying to make it that way.”

Draper remains in jail and was charged Dec. 17 with possession of a weapon/explosive by a prisoner after she was discovered with a razor blade inside the county jail.

Los Alamos Police reported in March that what appeared to be a straightforward armed robbery at Mountainair Cleaners in November was apparently an inside job and a conspiracy to steal money to buy heroin.

Working together, LAPD patrol officers, detectives, residents and the District Attorney’s office arrested five people believed to be involved, including the clerk, Mark Paternoster, 18.