A 25-year-old man accused in a violent crime spree that included attempted murder, robbery and several carjacking attempts must remain in custody until trial.
State District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled Wednesday that Jay Wagers, 25, is too dangerous to release on bail because of the 15 charges he faces — a range including attempted murder and assaulting a police officer — combined with his history of acting violently and breaking conditions of release.
Sommer said it was one the most clear-cut cases for denying bail that was ever brought before her.
“Just being a very dangerous menace to the community,” Sommer said of Wagers.
Charges against him include two counts of attempted murder, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of battery on a peace officer, breaking and entering, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and a felon in possession of a firearm.
Prosecutor Kent Wahlquist said Wagers faces as much as 101 years in prison if convicted on all the charges.
Upon hearing his potential prison time, Wagers stood up to object, prompting his attorney to quiet him.
In addition to these charges, Santa Fe police are looking at Wagers as a “person of interest” in the fatal shooting of 39-year-old Joseph Aiello. The slaying happened the morning of Oct. 5, the same day as the violent incidents in which Wagers is accused.
This investigation wasn’t mentioned during Wednesday’s hearing because no charges have been filed.
Wagers’ alleged crime spree began at Owl’s Liquors on Hickox Street.
He and two other people pulled up in a sedan in front of the store, witnesses said. Wagers allegedly shot a homeless man who had approached the car and talked to the other occupants.
The wounded man took a bullet to his eye and temple and staggered back to the store, witnesses said.
According to Wahlquist, the driver and second passenger likely ordered Wagers out of the car before taking off. Wagers fled to Baca Street and attempted several carjackings; he jumped on the hood of a woman’s car, and she had to fishtail the vehicle to shake him off. One couple refused to stop, and Wagers fired at them from behind. The woman who was driving told police the bullet shattered their rear window and windshield and narrowly missed her head.
Another couple were going to pull over to assist Wagers when he flagged them down, but they spotted his gun and kept going, Wahlquist said.
Wagers then went to Counter Culture Cafe, where he threatened a woman with a knife in a failed attempt to steal her purse, Wahlquist said.
Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies later found Wagers hiding in a gray Toyota truck in the Indian School parking lot.
He was armed with a knife and a .40-caliber handgun, which matched shell casings found in the areas where shots were fired, police reports state.
Wahlquist said Wagers was dressed in clothing that matched what multiple witnesses had described. After he was arrested, Wagers struggled with officers trying to restrain him, including when he was put in a holding cell, according to police reports.
Attorney Mike Jones, who is defending Wagers, argued that police made the arrest based on thin evidence. Wagers’ clothing was nondescript, .40-caliber guns are common and the car was outside the video camera’s range when the liquor store shooting occurred, so the culprit isn’t seen, Jones said.
He asked that Wagers be put on house arrest with his parents in Taos and be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet.
Wahlquist pointed to Wagers’ past pattern of violent behavior and flouting probation and conditions of release.
In 2019, Wagers engaged in a spate of crimes within several weeks, Wahlquist said.
He was convicted of battery upon a peace officer. He also was found guilty of car theft, receiving stolen property and possession of narcotics between 2017 and 2019.
In the past, Wagers has defied electronic monitoring, which was a condition of his release, and committed a slew of crimes while on probation, Wahlquist said.
“He hasn’t abided by electronic monitoring, he hasn’t abided by probation, and he has once again gone on a crime spree — and this is more of heightened crime spree,” Sommer said.