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Prosecutor: False teeth link man to Ruidoso home invasion

False teeth linked a man to a home invasion in Ruidoso, which was conducted while the man wore a Halloween mask.

Gabriel Eppley, 44, was sentenced to the maximum time of 10 years after being found guilty of aggravated burglary.

The home invasion happened on May 3, 2018 on the 100 block of Convair Drive.

The victim called police to report a man with a Halloween mask had broken in to her home at 1:30 p.m.

The victim, unidentified in the news release, first thought it was a joke.

She realized she was in danger when Eppley would not speak to her or remove his mask. Prosecutors did not say which character the mask was depicting.

According to the victim, Eppley chased her into a bedroom and she fell on her bed during a struggle. She says Eppley got on top of her and started to undo his zipper when she struck him repeatedly. Eppley’s false teeth fell out and landed on the bed. The news release did not state how the attack ended or when Eppley left the victim’s home.

Later DNA testing of the teeth linked Eppley to the crime.

Because of a prior federal drug conviction, Eppley was sentenced as a habitual offender.

In Eppley’s November trial, a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on an additional charge of attempted criminal penetration. The judge declared a mistrial on that charge, and a new trial has not yet been scheduled.

The case was investigated by the patrol division of the Ruidoso Police Department with assistance from the New Mexico State Police and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

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