During a court hearing in northern New Mexico, state prosecutors elevated the case against Ryan David Martinez by incorporating hate crime charges into the preexisting attempted murder accusation. The alteration comes as Martinez is alleged to have shot a Native American activist during a dispute over a statue’s placement.
Martinez entered a not guilty plea to all charges in the Tierra Amarilla courthouse. Assistant District Attorney Tony Long signaled intentions to seek augmented penalties due to the utilization of a firearm and to establish that the act was propelled by prejudice against a specific social group.
The incident, which led to Martinez’s arrest on September 28, involved altercations at an Española public gathering. The assembly was in response to the aborted reinstatement of a bronze representation of Juan de Oñate, a historical figure with a contentious legacy, dating to the establishment of early Spanish settlements in 1598.
Victim Jacob Johns, an environmental and Native American rights advocate of Hopi and Akimel O’odham heritage from Spokane, Washington, sustained serious injuries from the gunfire. Johns was among those commemorating the county’s decision not to proceed with the statue’s installation through traditional celebrations.
According to state legislation, the hate crime classification may lengthen incarceration by a year, with firearm-related charges potentially adding eight years. The primary felony charges against Martinez could result in over 16 years of imprisonment, plus additional penalties and a misdemeanor charge related to reckless driving might lead to 90 more days of jail time.
Judge Jason Lidyard set the jury trial for May 2024 and ruled that Martinez should be detained until trial.