Court upholds pretrial jailing of man charged in shooting over Spanish conquistador statue

SANTA FE, N.M. — An appeals court on Monday upheld a judge’s decision to deny bail to a New Mexico man charged with attempted murder in the September shooting of a Native American activist during clashes over canceled plans to build a statue of a Hispanic reinstall conquistador.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has upheld a pretrial detention order for 23-year-old Ryan David Martinez as he awaits trial on charges including assault with a deadly weapon and additional hate crimes and weapons violations. Martinez has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

During a September 28 protest in Española, confrontations erupted over canceled plans to install a bronze effigy of conquistador Juan de Oñate, who is both revered and reviled for his role in establishing early settlements along the Upper Rio Grande from 1598. Chaos broke out. at the rally when a single shot was fired in events captured by bystanders’ cellphones and a surveillance camera.

Multiple videos show Martinez attempting to run to a shrine as opposed to installing the statue at that spot — only to have Martinez physically blocked by a group of men. Voices are heard saying, “Let him go,” as Martinez retreats over a short wall, pulls a gun from his waist and fires one shot.

The shooting seriously injured Jacob Johns of Spokane, Washington, a well-traveled environmental activist and Native American rights advocate of the Hopi and Akimel O’odham tribes.

Defense attorneys Nicole Moss and Ray Marshall unsuccessfully argued that bail was denied arbitrarily, and without full consideration of supervised release options. They said Martinez will have a strong case for acting in self-defense and that he was not an instigator.

Three Court of Appeal judges confirmed the pretrial detention after consulting with the attorney general and reviewing previous testimony from witnesses to the conflict, local law enforcement and the FBI.

Attorney General Raúl Torrez has urged the Court of Appeal to detain Martinez pending trial, even though the suspect has not previously been charged with serious crimes. He noted that Martinez had a loaded, concealed handgun with him when he deliberately entered an area against the wishes of protesters, provoking a conflict.

“Defendant threatened to shoot people, may have violated federal firearms laws, brought weapons to a peaceful ceremony, and ultimately shot Jacob,” the attorney general’s office said.

In denying bail, Judge Jason Lidyard previously highlighted Martinez’s aggressive behavior, including profanities directed at a sheriff’s deputy and bystanders at the Española demonstration and previous violent threats in social media posts against the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Lidyard also highlighted testimony that Martinez appeared to convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons at home, where he lived with his parents. That situation also weighed on the judge’s decision against release that involved parental supervision.