Man charged in shooting over Spanish conquistador statue appeals detention order pending trial
A judge’s order to deny bail is being challenged by a New Mexico man charged with attempted murder in the September shooting of a Native American activist during confrontations about canceled plans to reinstall a statue of a Spanish conquistador, according to court documents obtained Tuesday.
Attorneys for defendant Ryan David Martinez, 23, are urging the New Mexico Court of Appeals to overturn a court order that keeps him jailed pending trial on charges that also include assault with a deadly weapon and potential sentence enhancements on alleged hate-crime and weapons violations.
The man from Sandia Park has pleaded not guilty to all charges in the Sept. 28 shooting at a protest in Española over canceled plans to install a bronze likeness of conquistador Juan de Oñate, who is both revered and reviled for his role in establishing early settlements along the Upper Rio Grande starting in 1598. Chaos erupted at the gathering as a single shot was fired in events recorded by bystanders' cell phones and a surveillance camera.
Multiple videos show Martinez attempting to rush toward a shrine in opposition to installing the statue on that spot — only for Martinez to be blocked physically by a group of men. Voices can be heard saying, “Let him go,” as Martinez retreats over a short wall, pulls a handgun from his waist and fires one shot.
The appeal of the detention order argues that bail was denied arbitrarily in a decision that stems from “false narratives” and insufficient evidence.
“Even where there is a finding of potential for failure to appear or danger to the community, the defendant is still entitled to release if those issues may be reasonably controlled by conditions of release,” the appeal states.
Defense attorneys Nicole Moss and Ray Marshall described three men in the crowd — including the man who was shot — as the instigators and say Martinez only pulled out a lawfully permitted concealed handgun after being tackled.
“Mr. Martinez will have a strong argument for self-defense to the underlying charge,” the appeal states.
Prosecutors say they expect the pretrial detention order to be upheld.
“We disagree with the defense’s assessment, and so did Judge Jason Lidyard,” said Nathan Lederman, a spokesperson for the Santa Fe-based district attorney’s office.
The Court of Appeals could call on the attorney general's office to respond.
“Mr. Martinez poses a threat to the community and if released no conditions of release would reasonably protect the community," said agency spokesperson Lauren Rodriguez.
Lidyard authorized a trial and denied bail for Martinez after nearly five hours of court testimony and a review of video evidence. He ruled that Martinez should have known he was provoking a crowd with contrary views about the conquistador statue after arriving with loaded, concealed weapons on his waist and in his car.
Lidyard overruled a public safety assessment for Martinez that recommended pretrial release for a defendant with no prior criminal convictions or failures to appear in court. He highlighted aggressive conduct by Martinez, including expletives directed at a sheriff’s deputy and bystanders at the demonstration and past violent threats in social media posts against the U.S. Federal Reserve. Lidyard also highlighted testimony that Martinez appeared to be converting semi-automatic guns at home into automatic weapons.
The shooting severely wounded Jacob Johns, of Spokane, Washington, a well-traveled activist for environmental causes and an advocate for Native American rights who is of Hopi and Akimel O’odham tribal descent.
An attorney for Johns expressed confidence in the judge’s detention ruling.
“The reality is everyone has seen the video where Martinez is aggressive and violent and pulls a gun on unarmed people,” attorney John Day said. “Judge Lidyard was very careful and methodical when he made his ruling."