John Mayes, who is accused of killing Dr. James Nordstrom, appears in court on Thursday in Gallup during his murder trial.
John Mayes, who is accused of killing Dr. James Nordstrom, appears in court on Thursday in Gallup during his murder trial. (Ryan Boetel — The Daily Times)

GALLUP — John Mayes admitted to police that he beat a Farmington doctor until he stopped moving, according to an audio recording prosectors played for the jury Thursday in the second day of Mayes' murder trial in Gallup.

“I grabbed a pool stick, and I hit him,” Mayes told police in the recording the day he was arrested on suspicion of killing Dr. James Nordstrom. “I hit him in the head a couple times. I hit him in the head four or five times. At that point I was freaked out.”

Mayes, 20, is accused of killing Nordstrom on June 9, 2011, in the doctor's home in the Farmington Foothills neighborhood. Prosecutors are seeking a first-degree murder conviction. The defense has yet to present their case.

Jurors listed to the tape Thursday. For the first 50 minutes, Mayes denies killing Nordstrom. He then tells police several stories. Eventually, he says that he snuck into the doctor's home and hid in his bedroom for an hour before beating the doctor with a pool stick cue.

But Mayes' attorney argued in his opening statement that the then-17-year-old acted in self-defense.

“John (Mayes) was only looking for a place to stay and food to eat,” said attorney Stephen Taylor.

After running away from home, Mayes saw Nordstrom washing his truck, Taylor said. Nordstrom, 57, offered Mayes a place to stay for the night, and the two watched a James Bond movie, a little bit of basketball and then played pool, Taylor told the jury.

During the game, Taylor said Nordstrom took off his shirt and asked Mayes to do the same. He said the defense will present evidence that police found Nordstrom's shirt — without any blood on it — in the kitchen. 

Taylor told the jury that Nordstrom said to Mayes, “I want you to try something with me. Nobody will have to know. Just do this, this one time with me. I'm letting you stay here.”

In court on Thursday, a former girlfriend testified that Nordstrom was straight, and three inmates said Mayes talked about the crime but never mentioned sexual assault. Nordstrom's friends also testified to finding the doctor's blood in his home the day after his death. 

Rick Pyne, who was a friend of Nordstrom's for 30 years and saw the doctor the evening before he died, said the doctor was straight and liked women. Lori Hanson, a former girlfriend, also testified that Nordstrom was straight. Another friend, John Edwards, said Nordstrom has nearly 15 girlfriends since the 1980s.

“Jim liked women and women liked Jim,” he said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw said that on the night Nordstrom died, Mayes hid behind a wood pile until it was dark, and then he entered the doctor's home through a door to his bedroom. Nordstrom was watching the NBA finals, and Mayes took a pool cue stick from an antique pool table and waited for the doctor, according to prosecutors.

“He was hit and he was hit and he was hit,” Capshaw said during his opening statements as he showed the jury a picture of gaping wounds on the top of Nordstrom's head. “Until it was ugly.”

Pyne returned to Nordstrom's house the next morning and found what looked like blood, he testified. He called San Juan Regional Medical Center and the urgent care facility to see if Nordstrom was a patient. Then he called Edwards, the doctor's best friend.

Edwards said in court that he went into the home and found more blood around the pool table and in the bedroom. Pyne called police, and he kept searching for Nordstrom. 

“That's when we realized that something horrible had happened. There was blood splattered everywhere,” Edwards said. 

Mayes was found driving the doctor's car in Farmington at 1 p.m. the day after Nordstrom's death. He was arrested and taken to the New Mexico State Police office in Farmington. 

Mayes is the son of Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes. He was adopted by from Ukraine at age 5 by Rob Mayes and his wife, Carroll.

Taylor said prior to being adopted, John Mayes was a ward of the state in the Ukraine. Police there found him, then 2, holding his 1-year-old sister in a blizzard. Because of his early years, John Mayes suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder. That disorder is why he initially gave police a different account of what happened after his arrest, according to his attorneys.

“John (Mayes), ever cooperative, was fed a story by his investigators. This was the police's story, not John's,” Taylor said. 

Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.