A state District Court judge in Santa Fe ruled Friday that Anton Martinez, one of four adult suspects charged in last week’s fatal shooting of a teen on a highway north of Española, was too dangerous to be allowed out of jail while awaiting trial.
District Attorney Marco Serna said Martinez, who faces a murder charge, proved he was a threat to the community when he armed himself with a Colt 45 provided by his friend Mark Hice and began shooting, indiscriminately, at a car full of teenagers when Hice gave the order.
New Mexico State Police believe the shooting victims — Cameron Martinez, 18, a popular graduate of Española High School who was killed by a gunshot wound, and three others who were injured — were targeted by mistake.
Serna said Hice told police he had fired nine shots during the incident, while another suspect “fired a full magazine” and 19-year-old Anton Martinez fired once.
But Anton Martinez’s attorney, Stephen Aarons, argued that witnesses gave conflicting testimony about whether his client had fired any shots.
Anton Martinez’s older brother took the stand Friday, testifying that another teen riding in the car that night had said in social media messages that Anton had not fired on Cameron Martinez and his friends. Instead, the brother said, Anton Martinez had joined other occupants of the vehicle in urging Hice to stop firing.
District Judge Jason Lidyard ruled in favor of state prosecutors, however, saying Serna had presented sufficient evidence Anton Martinez was a threat to the community and should not be released pending his trial.
Anton Martinez is one of seven people — three of them minors — who have been arrested since the shooting, which occurred around 9:30 p.m. Oct. 4 on N.M. 68 near the Ohkay Hotel Casino.
State police have charged Anton Martinez, Hice, 22, and Alex Zamarron, 17, with first-degree murder. Arrest warrant affidavits say Hice admitted to officers that he gave guns to several of his friends, and they drove around in two cars Oct. 4, prepared to open fire on people who had been threatening him on social media.
Hice’s girlfriend, Brittany Garcia, 21, along with Katryna Moya, 17, and Alejandra Gonzalez, 16, have been charged with lesser crimes, including tampering with evidence and conspiracy.
State police Officer Ray Wilson, a spokesman for the agency, said a seventh suspect, 23-year-old Savannah Martinez, turned herself in around 3 p.m. Thursday. It was unclear what charges she may face.
According to initial police reports, Hice, Anton Martinez, Garcia and Savannah Martinez were in one car and Zamarron, Moya and Alejandra Gonzalez were in another.
The group had been cruising N.M. 68 on high alert, Hice told police. Some of them had been involved in an altercation on the highway earlier in the day, firing shots at another group of teens.
When they encountered the vehicle carrying Cameron Martinez and his friends, they mistook them for some of their “enemies” and opened fire, realizing later they had targeted the wrong people, according to reports.
Detention hearings for Hice and Garcia also were scheduled Friday, but their attorneys said they were waiving their rights to expedited hearings on prosecutors’ motions to detain them without bail until trial. The attorneys wanted more time to prepare for the hearings, they said.
Friends and family members of both victims and suspects — many of them young people — packed Lidyard’s courtroom for the Friday hearing. Many of them were in tears over the fatal shooting, which has deeply affected residents of the Española Valley.
Anton Martinez’s aunt, Nancy Martinez, said after the hearing she didn’t feel the state had proven her nephew fired a gun.
But, she said, she understood the community’s need for some type of justice and felt it would help those in mourning “knowing something was being done.”
“I think the community needs to grieve,” she said. “The judge not letting him out protects him in a certain way, too, because the community is really angry. And he’s just a kid, too.”