Court upholds pretrial jailing of man charged in shooting over Spanish conquistador statue

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An appeals court Monday upheld a judge’s decision to deny bail to a New Mexico man charged with attempted murder in the September shooting of a Native American activist during confrontations about canceled plans to reinstall a statue of a Spanish conquistador.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals affirmed a pretrial detention order against 23-year-old Ryan David Martinez as he awaits trial on charges that also include assault with a deadly weapon and additional hate-crime and weapons violations. Martinez has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At a protest on Sept. 28 in Española, confrontations ignited over canceled plans to install a bronze likeness of conquistador Juan de Oñate, who is both revered and reviled for his role in establishing early settlements along the Upper Rio Grande starting in 1598. Chaos erupted at the gathering as a single shot was fired in events recorded by bystanders’ cell phones and a surveillance camera.

Multiple videos show Martinez attempting to rush toward a shrine in opposition to installing the statue on that spot — only for Martinez to be blocked physically by a group of men. Voices can be heard saying, “Let him go,” as Martinez retreats over a short wall, pulls a handgun from his waist and fires one shot.

The shooting severely wounded Jacob Johns, of Spokane, Washington, a well-traveled activist for environmental causes and an advocate for Native American rights who is of Hopi and Akimel O’odham tribal descent.

Defense attorneys Nicole Moss and Ray Marshall argued unsuccessfully that bail was denied arbitrarily, and without full consideration for monitored release options. They said Martinez will have a strong argument for acting in self-defense and wasn’t an instigator.

Three Appeals Court judges affirmed pretrial detention after consulting the state attorney general and reviewing prior district court testimony from witnesses to the conflict, local law enforcement and the FBI.

Attorney General Raúl Torrez urged the Appeals Court to keep Martinez jailed pending trial even though the defendant has not been charged with serious crimes before. He noted that Martinez carried a loaded, concealed gun with him as he intentionally entered an area against protesters’ wishes, provoking a conflict.

“Defendant threatened to shoot people, may have violated federal firearms laws, brought guns to a peaceful ceremony and ultimately shot Jacob,” the attorney general’s office said.

In denying bail, state District Court Judge Jason Lidyard previously highlighted aggressive conduct by Martinez, including expletives directed at a sheriff’s deputy and bystanders at the demonstration in Española and past violent threats in social media posts against the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Lidyard also highlighted testimony that Martinez appeared to be converting semi-automatic guns into automatic weapons at home where he lived with his parents. That situation also weighed in the judge’s decision against release involving parental supervision.

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