Three witnesses who were in an SUV that was fired on in Chamita, leaving an Española man dead and three people wounded, provided vivid details Tuesday in state District Court of the chaotic events that broke out after a drug deal went amiss. 

Mariah Martinez told of being awakened from a nap in the back seat of the Chrevolet Tahoe when a gunshot shattered the rear window. 

"Everyone was screaming, yelling," she said. "I started screaming that I was pregnant, thinking it would calm them down, but it didn't. They kept shooting." 

Martinez said her brother, 35-year-old Fernando Martinez, helped her into the Tahoe's middle row of seats when they both were shot. 

Fernando Martinez's wound would be fatal. 

Mariah Martinez; her fiancé, Sean Martinez; and Leo Padilla, another passenger, testified at the pretrial detention hearing for Mario Valdez, 31, and his 50-year-old father, Andrew Valdez, who face a slew of charges in the deadly March 11 shooting outside the Valdezes' home.

Mario Valdez has been charged with first-degree murder. 

He also faces three counts of shooting at a motor vehicle resulting in great bodily harm, three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count each of tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm by a felon, as well as two counts of shooting at a motor vehicle with no injury.

Andrew Valdez has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault. 

The hearing, on prosecutors' request for the defendants to remain jailed without bond until their trial, will continue next week to allow Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist to call more witnesses. They include Joe Archuleta, the driver who was shot in the neck, and Ivory Martinez who, according to other witnesses, asked to be taken to Andrew Valdez's home to buy methamphetamine. 

The evening began with six people cruising around in the Tahoe. 

Sean Martinez, who owns the Tahoe, said he was tired from refurbishing his new house and had been drinking earlier in the evening, so he asked Archuleta to drive. 

Around midnight, Ivory Martinez insisted they stop at Andrew Valdez's house in Chamita. A few minutes after she went inside the double-wide mobile home, Sean Martinez decided to go in and bring her out so they could all go home. 

She was surrounded by half a dozen people, and the atmosphere was hostile, he said. She was quarreling with people, and a few told him to get her out, he said. 

She stood in front of a table that had meth on it. 

"I told her, ‘Let's just leave this area because they don't want you here,’ ” Martinez said. “ ‘I don't know why you're still here.’ ”  

He said he knocked the meth off the table and escorted her out. 

Andrew Valdez, whom he described as an older, bald man, knocked him off the front porch stairs and hit him in the head with a steel folding chair.

Sean Martinez said he tried to get away to avoid further brawling, but Valdez ran after him and stabbed him in the back with a dull knife. 

He wrested the knife from Valdez and said they didn't come there to start trouble and wanted to leave, Sean Martinez said. 

A moment later, someone shot out the SUV's rear window. 

Sean Martinez said he found Archuleta frozen in a panic, so he took the wheel as gunshots sounded. 

He threw the SUV into reverse and tried to back out, but he hit a gate and fence. Then the SUV stalled because bullets had disabled the transmission, he said. 

He told everyone to run before they all were shot. 

Mariah Martinez said she saw everyone fleeing but felt dazed and immobilized because of her head wound. Archuleta pulled her out of the SUV and half-dragged her down the road, she said. 

"[He] kept telling me, ‘You just have to keep running,’ ” she said, "because I told him I can't run anymore, I can't. He said, ‘You have to be strong. Keep running or they'll kill all of us.’ ” 

Then she realized her brother must be dead. 

"He wasn't running with us," she said as she tried to hold back tears. 

Sean Martinez said that when he didn't see his fiancée, he went back to look for her. He took her from the wounded Archuleta, who was struggling to assist her. 

They trudged along until they came upon New Mexico State Police arriving at the scene, he said. 

Padilla gave a somewhat different account of the scuffle that preceded the shooting. 

He said a shirtless Andrew Valdez came out on the front porch and smashed a fluorescent light over a railing. He said Valdez and two younger men began yelling. 

Someone shined a bright light into the SUV just before another person opened fire, Padilla said. 

Padilla said nothing about Valdez attacking Sean Martinez. 

Defense lawyers asked the witnesses if they could identify who fired the shots.

All three said they couldn't see who it was because it was too dark and chaotic. 

Surveillance video shows Andrew and Mario Valdez driving away after the shooting. They were arrested almost a month later. 

(2) comments

Michael Grimler

The moral of the story is...

Don't "hang out" where illegal drugs, alcohol and a**holes are present.

Khal Spencer

No kidding.

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