Man charged in slaying is denied bond

Jonathan Kelley walks into district court for a hearing on Monday, December 2, 2019. Prosecutors argued that Kelley, 61, who is accused of stabbing Robert Barela, 51, to death in a fight in Santa Fe last month, should be held without bond awaiting trial. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

A judge ruled Monday that Jonathan Kelly, accused of stabbing a Santa Fe man to death after a night of drinking in November, should remain in jail without bond until trial.

Kelly, 61, is charged with killing 51-year-old Robert L. Barela.

In arguing Kelly should not be released pending trial, prosecutor Kent Wahlquist told Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer the two men had an altercation Nov. 18 inside Kelly’s Santa Fe apartment, during which Kelly stabbed Barela. He stumbled into the street and died in a pool of his own blood.



Police followed the blood trail to Kelly’s home on Lopez Street, Wahlquist said, and Kelly admitted stabbing Barela.

“We have a dead person in the road, having bled to death, a bloody trail leading to his house and the defendant saying, ‘Yeah, I done stabbed him,’ ” Wahlquist said.

“House arrest won’t protect the community if he is stabbing people at his house,” the prosecutor added.

Kelly’s attorney, Richard Timmerman Wilson, asked the court to release Kelly on his own recognizance — or at the most on electronic monitoring — saying Kelly had no prior criminal history, save a charge of battery against a household member in August which had been dismissed.

Wilson said the state’s case against Kelly in Barela’s death was weak because the single witness — a woman who had been partying with the men that night — had recanted her initial statements to police, saying she couldn’t remember what happened. “Mr. Kelly was defending himself, if anything,” Wilson said, “and perhaps that led to what happened to the victim in this case. But really at the end of the day we have a criminal complaint and the argument of defense counsel and I don’t think that meets the standard [for holding Kelly without bond].”

Marlowe Sommer sided with the prosecution, citing the seriousness of the charges. She said the fact that Kelly had picked up the recent domestic violence charge “suggests Mr. Kelly is dangerous at this time.”

“I’m not satisfied house arrest will keep the community safe,” the judge said. “I don’t think we have a good pulse on Mr. Kelly. I think he should be held without bond until trial.”

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