Daniel Martinez headed to trial in assault case

Daniel Martinez at state District Court in Bernalillo last month. Luis Sánchez Saturno/New Mexican file photo

BERNALILLO — Chrystalyn Griego told a Sandoval County magistrate Wednesday she was afraid for her life when, she said, Daniel Martinez chased her from Santa Fe on Interstate 25 in July and ran her off the highway south of the city.

“When I’d speed up, he would speed up; when I slowed down, he would slow down,” she said. “There was never a point where I could get away from him.”

Martinez, 54, who has a history of violent crimes, is accused of following Griego from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where she works, for more than 20 miles and then forcing her off I-25 and refusing to let her back on the road. He is charged with felony aggravated assault, reckless driving and possession of a concealed deadly weapon — a set of brass knuckles.

During a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Magistrate Court, Judge Delilah Montano-Baca found prosecutors had shown probable cause to hold a state District Court trial against Martinez on all three charges.

He faces a maximum sentence of less than three years if convicted.

Martinez appeared in court dressed in snakeskin cowboy boots and a black striped shirt. Griego identified him as the man she said had tried to lure her to a truck in the Christus St. Vincent parking lot July 19 and later chased her down the highway.

In cross-examination, Martinez’s attorney, Kelly Golightley, raised questions about whether her client actually had left the hospital before Griego. But Griego said she had seen his truck following her in hospital surveillance video.

Golightley then called for the judge to postpone the hearing, arguing the defense didn’t receive the surveillance video from prosecutors during the evidence-sharing process called discovery.

Assistant District Attorney Jennette Mondragon countered that Griego, as a hospital employee, had access to the video, but it was not collected as evidence.

Montano-Baca struck Griego’s testimony about the video but allowed the hearing to continue.

Golightley later sought to have the hearing suspended because prosecutors did not have video from the arresting officer, Sandoval County sheriff’s Deputy Flavio Ortega.

“This takes time and the evidence might still be getting to us,” Assistant District Attorney Andoni Garrote told Montano-Baca, explaining why the deputy’s video was not yet submitted as evidence.

According to reports of the incident, Griego told law enforcement officers who responded to the scene she didn’t know Martinez and had never seen him before that day. After she was given his name, however, she said she looked him up and recognized him as the father of a high school classmate.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Agent Craig Janis also testified Wednesday, saying he saw Martinez’s maroon Chevrolet truck alongside I-25, blocking Griego’s white Jeep. He recorded Martinez’s license plate and then pulled over Griego after she finally was able to get on the highway, Janis said.

He described Griego as “very distraught, shaking, crying, scared.”

Martinez pulled in behind him, Janis told the judge, and honked and waved to get his attention. Martinez then claimed Griego had cut him off, the deputy said.

As he called for backup from the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office, Janis told the court, Martinez flagged him down again and said Griego was connected to an ex-girlfriend who had stolen items from his house. Martinez got out of his truck, the agent said, and refused orders to get back inside.

Ortega also testified that Martinez had told him he followed Griego from Christus St. Vincent so he could get his property back. Ortega made a decision to arrest Martinez after speaking with Griego and Janis, he said.

In an interview after the hearing, Golightley said, “I think there’s a lot more to this story than a split second on the interstate.”

Martinez has spent the past few decades in and out of prison for kidnapping, assault and drug dealing. He was most recently released in January.

He is perhaps most known for a high-profile rape and murder case in 1992 that didn’t land him in prison. A jury acquitted Martinez, who was accused of dragging a woman into an arroyo off Rodeo Road and assaulting her with a mop handle and then fatally shooting Santa Fe pharmacist Chester Radecki — who lived nearby and had come to investigate the woman’s screams — with a gun he had wrested from a Santa Fe County deputy.

In August, a judge ordered Martinez’s release into his father’s custody on a $500 bond in the recent case.

State District Judge Louis P. McDonald later created conditions for Martinez’s release until his trial, saying Martinez could leave the house to work but had a 7 p.m. curfew. Martinez also can’t drink, use drugs or possess weapons, or contact his accuser.