FARMINGTON — Two men will spend their lives in prison for the murder of Kevin Lossiah.

Chief District Judge John Dean has sentenced Donovan King, 24, to life in prison, plus 18 years. A jury on Aug. 8 convicted King of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

King and Justin Mark, the 25-year-old co-defendant, were convicted of breaking into Lossiah's apartment on Apache Street on May 29, 2011, and beating him to death. King used a large wooden stick, and Mark used a sock with a rock in it, according to court documents.

Lossiah, 40, died later that evening.

Mark was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to life, plus three years, in prison.

At King's sentencing hearing last week, Lossiah's family spoke about the pain of losing their loved one.

"In the trial, I got to see the pictures of how he was beaten, and I can't get that out of my head," said Norah Lossiah, Kevin Lossiah's mother, at the hearing.

Relatives told Dean stories about Kevin Lossiah's childhood and brought in pictures of him with his family.

They talked about his love of music and Native American culture and his kindness. They also spoke of how his death caused his father's health problems. His father died before King or Mark stood trial.

"May God forgive me for feeling the way I feel right now," said Daniel Tso, Kevin Lossiah's uncle. "No apologies will suffice to the brutality that was shown in the vile and anger that Mr. King and Mr. Mark displayed."

King's attorney, Cosme Ripol, told Dean that out of compassion for Kevin Lossiah's family, King asked that the judge hand down a consecutive -- not concurrent – sentence.

"I spent two years incarcerated in a very confined area. It's been very disturbing," King said during the hearing. "There's a lot of things that go on in a person's mind. ... People have a conscience, whether or not it seems like it. And even a cold-hearted person has a heart."

King added: "I am truly and deeply sorry for everything that has happened."

Assistant District Attorney Ken Stalter said Dean ordered King's sentences to be served consecutively.

Because of state sentencing laws, King will have to serve at least 44 years and three months in prison before he is eligible for parole, Stalter said.

Being eligible for parole does not guarantee freedom.

Donovan King
Donovan King (Courtesy of the San Juan County Adult Detention Center)

Of the convicted murders who served more than 30 years in prison and went before the New Mexico Parole Board last year, the board denied release for 93 percent of the inmates, according to parole board records.

Ricky Reynolds, who killed a man in 1981, was released from prison in September 2012, according to the records. The other 14 men -- all of whom had been convicted of murder and served at least 30 years prison -- were denied release last year.

Reynolds is the only person in New Mexico who is still free after being convicted of murder, sentenced to life in prison and granted parole, said Alex Tomlin, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Corrections Department.

Tomlin said Reynolds was a model prisoner and became a skilled carpenter while incarcerated.

"He had risen to a level of trust in the system" before he was paroled, she said.

The board filled out a checklist with its reasons for denying parole for the other 14 inmates last year. The primary reasons for denial were: "the nature and seriousness of offense," "your parole at this time would depreciate the seriousness of your crime" and "parole is not in the best interest of society and/or the inmate at this time."

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