Mark Hice, Brittany Garcia and Anton Martinez, three of the seven suspects charged in the shooting death of Cameron Martinez, no relation, appeared in court Oct. 11 in the Rio Arriba Magistrate Court and then Oct. 12 in the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe.
A fourth suspect, Savannah Martinez, appeared in the Magistrate Court on Monday.
A clearer picture of the events that evening has emerged, and through testimony offered at District Court, the state laid out it’s timeline of events.
The details are taken mainly from statements made by Hice to New Mexico State Police Agent William Terrazas, although at least some of those details were confirmed by statements given by Brittany Garcia in a separate interview.
According to Terrazas, Garcia was driving her white Kia Optima northbound on State Highway 68, just north of the Española city limits, when a blue Subaru began to approach them.
In the passenger seat next to Garcia was Savannah Martinez, the most recent suspect to be taken into custody. Behind Garcia was Hice, and to his right, Anton Martinez.
The Subaru, driven by Angelyssa Montoya, and occupied by Cameron Martinez, Rudy Trujillo and Monica Cordova, was in the left lane, nearest the median when Hice allegedly opened fire from the backseat of the Kia.
Hice admitted to firing at least four shots at the vehicle, and he alleges that Anton Martinez fired at least once.
Terrazas described the position of the suspects during the shooting.
“Mark explained that he, as well as Anton, were somewhat slumped down in the rear seat,” Terrazas said. “Mark (Hice) explained that he was kind of leaning back away from the window a little bit with his gun pointed somewhat out.”
That’s where the stories diverge. In Hice’s version of events, Anton Martinez fired at the Subaru from across the vehicle.
“The way Mark Hice explained it,” Terrazas said on cross-examination, “was that Anton’s weapon was directly on the side of his face, he said that as Anton shot he could feel, like, pretty much the percussion of the gunshot.”
Terrazas said Garcia did not remember Anton Martinez firing any shots.
Additional testimony by Julian Martinez, Anton Martinez’s brother, included details that he said were given to him by Savannah Martinez.
“She said she did not see Anton open fire,” Julian Martinez said on the stand. “Nor did she hear his gun.”
Julian Martinez said Savannah Martinez told him that just prior to the shooting, Hice received a call from the someone in the vehicle Axel Zamarron was riding in saying, “that’s them.”
That’s when Julian Martinez said, Hice opened fire on the Subaru. According to statements made by Hice, Anton Martinez fired approximately one shot as well, and Zamarron followed behind, emptying a “full clip” at the victim’s vehicle.
Hice speaks out
Hice spoke out prior to his first court appearance and proclaimed his innocence. He is charged with murder in the first degree, multiple counts of shooting from a motor vehicle causing great bodily harm, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, conspiracy to tamper with evidence in a capital offense, and tampering with evidence in a capital offense,
Hice, turned himself in Oct. 6 to New Mexico State Police in Albuquerque. He said his innocence was the reason that he surrendered,
“I’m innocent,” he said, as he was escorted Oct. 11 by law enforcement to Magistrate Court.
That’s not all Hice had to say. He also insisted that he was not simply paranoid, but was shot at by another woman earlier the day Cameron Martinez was killed.
Judge Joseph Madrid’s courtroom was overflowing with not only the family and friends of Cameron Martinez and other victims from the shooting, but also with the families of the accused.
Hice’s mother, Michelle Mascareñas, who was instrumental in convincing Hice to surrender to law enforcement, was visibly shaken throughout the hearing. Tears streamed down her face as Madrid read the list of charges her son faces.
Hice remained quiet as Madrid explained the charges and possible penalties to the defendant. If convicted of first degree murder, Hice will spend life in prison.
In addition to his role in the death of Cameron Martinez, Hice is charged with an earlier incident that day where he allegedly fired shots that endangered the lives of William and Mary Abeyta and their two grandsons during an altercation on State Road 68. According to reports, Hice was involved in an altercation with the occupants of a black Cadillac Escalade, and fired shots over the pickup in which the Abeytas were traveling.
During the process, Hice declined the offer from the state for a public defender to be appointed, insisting instead that he would hire his own defense attorney.
The move concerned District Attorney Marco Serna, who said as much, and repeatedly tried to impress on Hice that hiring private council or requesting a public defender was imperative as the case would be moving very quickly through the court system.
Serna filed a motion to keep Hice in jail until his trial, a motion that would be heard in District Court Oct. 12.
Just before deputies prepared to remove Hice, Madrid addressed him and the court at large.
“In all the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve seen the worst,” Madrid said. “I’ve lived through the worst. I can’t even recall the last time innocent people were hurt like this. I think you need to reflect on that Mr. Hice.”
It was then that Hice began to lose his composure, and broke down into tears. As Madrid addressed the family of Cameron Martinez, Hice spoke out to the courtroom at large.
“Can I just say my apologies to the family?” He asked through tears.
A resounding, “No!” was heard from various sources in the courtroom, and Hice was escorted from the room.
Two days later, in District Court, Hice, through his private attorney Sheri Raphaelson waived the timeline for his detention hearing. The move was made to allow Raphaelson time to file a response to the District Attorney’s motion to hold Hice in jail until his trial.
Brittany Garcia makes brief appearance
In both magistrate and district court, Brittany Garcia barely spoke. When she appeared in magistrate court to hear the charges against her, she indicated that she would need a court-appointed attorney. However, two days later in District Court, Garcia was represented by private attorney Mark Earnest.
Garcia is charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence in a capital offense and tampering with evidence in a capital offense.
Through her attorney, Garcia waived the timeline for her detention hearing to allow her attorney to draft a response to the District Attorney’s motion to hold her in jail until her trial.
Anton Martinez says he's innocent
Anton Martinez, like Hice, proclaimed his own innocence just before he entered magistrate court.
“I’m innocent,” Anton Martinez said when asked why he had self-surrendered to law enforcement.
Anton Martinez is charged with murder in the first degree, three counts of shooting at or from a motor vehicle causing great bodily harm, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, conspiracy to tamper with evidence in a capital offense, and tampering with evidence in a capital offense. If found guilty, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Stephen Aarons, defense attorney for Anton Martinez, argued Oct. 12 to have the defendant released on bail in District Court.
In addition to the testimony of Julian Martinez, the defense argued to the court that the statements made by Brittany Garcia failed to state Anton Martinez had ever fired his weapon.
Julian Martinez, during testimony on his brother’s behalf, read a text message allegedly received from the seventh suspect, Savannah Martinez. Julian Martinez said he had contacted Savannah Martinez asking her to testify on his brother’s behalf.
“I had asked her if she’d be willing to testify her knowledge (sic),” Julian Martinez said. “She says, ‘I saw there’s no way he was at the earlier shooting because he was at work, and I told you to my knowledge he had never fired a shot from the gun.’”
Aarons contended to the court that Anton Martinez never actually fired his weapon, had neither the means nor the desire to leave the Española area and therefore requested that the court release him on house arrest while he awaited trial. He further argued that placing the defendant on house arrest would give him the opportunity to earn the court’s trust.
Serna said the community would be in danger if Anton Martinez was released, even on house arrest.
“This is a horrific, horrific crime that the defendant took part in, willingly, with complete disregard for the public,” Serna said. “The defendant in this particular case was told to point and shoot and he did, without any regard for the public.”
In the end, Judge Jason Lidyard ordered Anton Martinez to remain in jail without bail until trial. The ruling brought audible sighs of relief from the alleged victims of the crime present in the courtroom.
Savannah Martinez makes first appearance
Savannah Martinez appeared Monday for the first time in Magistrate Court. Unlike her codefendants, the courtroom was virtually empty during her court appearance, with only her family, her Public Defender Stephen McIlwain, and court personnel present. She appeared via video, whereas Hice, Garcia and Anton Martinez appeared in person.
Madrid read the charge against her, and explained that the state had moved to dismiss her tampering charges.
“The reason for the two charges being dismissed is due to the fact that the defendant is a tribal member and those two counts occurred on tribal land, thus my office does not have jurisdiction over those two counts,” Serna said Tuesday. “I am reaching out to the U.S. Attorney (to) file charges against her in federal court.”
She is still charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Halfway through the hearing, Anastasia Martin, entered the courtroom and made an appearance on behalf of the state. Initially, Martin asked the judge to reschedule the hearing to allow the state time to prepare.
Unfortunately, the main portion of the hearing had already taken place.
“I’ve already advised her of her rights,” Madrid said.
Martin informed the court that the state would be filing a motion for pretrial preventative detention.
With no motion before the court, Madrid set bail for Savannah Martinez at $10,000, or 20 percent cash due to the court. He further ordered that as a condition of her release, she be fitted with an ankle monitor and remain on house arrest.
There was a brief window of time when Savannah Martinez could have bonded out of jail on Monday, between her 1:30 p.m. hearing and mid-afternoon when the District Attorney’s Office filed a motion for pretrial preventative detention. The most recent filing means Savannah Martinez will remain in jail until a detention hearing can be held to determine whether or not she will be eligible to bond.
Serna said there were communication problems with the court that resulted in a bond being set for Savannah Martinez in the first place.
“There was miscommunication with regard to the setting due to the fact that I am handling the case and requested notice be sent to the Santa Fe office rather than the Rio Arriba office, which has been resolved,” Serna said.