Prosecutors add hate crime allegations in shooting over Spanish conquistador statue
Nov 3, 2023, 7:24 AM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State prosecutors added hate-crime allegations Thursday to charges of attempted murder against a New Mexico man accused in the shooting of a Native American activist amid confrontations about aborted plans to reinstall a statue of a Spanish conquistador in public, at a court hearing Thursday in northern New Mexico.
Defendant Ryan David Martinez pleaded not guilty to all charges at the arraignment overseen by a district court judge from a courthouse in TierraAmarilla.
Assistant District Attorney Tony Long indicated that his office will pursue sentence enhancements based on the use of a firearm and try to prove that the shooting was motivated by bias against a particular social group.
Martinez was arrested on Sept. 28 after chaos erupted and a single shot was fired at an outdoor gathering 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.
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.
He had joined other advocates for Native American rights as they celebrated with song, prayer and speeches the county’s decision not to install the statue that day.
Under state law, a hate-crime sentence enhancement could extend prison time by up to a year. The firearm-related enhancements could add up to eight years in prison.
Initial felony charges against Martinez carry possible sentences of up to 16 years and six months in prison, along with possible fines and parole, Long told the court. A misdemeanor charge of reckless driving could add up to 90 days in prison.
State District Court Judge Jason Lidyard scheduled a jury trial for May 2024. He has ordered that Martinez remain in jail pending trial.