Johnny Volpato Trials: 1981 & 1986 - A Robbery Gone Wrong Or A Planned Murder?, A Troubled Marriage, New Witnesses Testify In Second Trial
Defendant John S. "Johnny" Volpato
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyer: Dick A. Blenden
Chief Prosecutor: Ernest Carroll
Judge: Bill Sadler
Place: Carlsbad, New Mexico
Dates of Trials: First Trial: September-October, 1981; Second Trial: October 1986
Verdict: First Trial: Guilty; Second Trial: Not guilty
Sentence: First Trial: life with no parole for 30 years
SIGNIFICANCE: Witnesses whom police ignored in the first trial testified during the second trial with an entirely different outcome. Still, the question remains among the people of Carlsbad: Is Johnny Volpato guilty or innocent of murdering his wife?
Shortly before midnight on February 5, 1980, Johnny Volpato pulled up to The Corner Drugstore, which he owned, in downtown Carlsbad. Sitting beside him in his late-model Datson was his 36-year-old wife, Elaine. The after-hours drugstore run wasn't unusual for the pharmacist, father of two, and rising local political star. Volpato often opened his drug store at all hours to fill customers' emergency prescriptions. In fact, he even ran ads in the local newspaper with his home phone number so that he could be reached at any time.
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