Murder Suspect Kevin Martinez Arrested

Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office arrests murder suspect Kevin Martinez, 22, Wednesday night.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kevin Martinez, 22, Wednesday night at approximately 10:30 p.m. after Martinez barricaded himself in an El Llano Road residence where he was hiding, according to the sheriff’s office. 

A warrant for Martinez’s arrest was issued on Feb. 20. He was charged with the first-degree murder of Elmer Sanchez, 36. Sanchez was shot and killed on Oct. 17, 2022 in front of his home where he lived with his fiancée and their four children. 

Rio Arriba County Magistrate Court Judge Alexandra Naranjo said the court will decide Martinez's probable cause bond Friday.

“We have been watching several locations for the last several months,” Rio Arriba County Sheriff Billy Merrifield said when asked how Martinez was found. 

Merrifield said Martinez was not armed and refused to come out of the residence, but when speciality teams from the New Mexico State Police arrived, they were able to successfully remove Martinez from the property and place him under arrest. Martinez suffered an injury from a police dog, according to Merrifield.

The arrest was only possible with the help of the New Mexico State Police, Los Alamos Police Department, Pojoaque Police Department, Taos Sheriff’s Office, Española Police department and numerous tips given by community members, according to Merrifield.

When the search warrant for Martinez was first issued, he was on house arrest for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl, and living in a Hernandez trailer park with his grandmother, when he fatally shot Sanchez, according to the documents.  

Jerrid Maestas, 28, of Hernandez was originally charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in Sanchez’s killing. Investigators accused him of killing his neighbor during a dispute and ditching the murder weapon.  

Jail records show Maestas was originally freed on house arrest in the killing, then sent to jail without bond. 

He is still being held at the Rio Arriba County Detention Center on charges of tampering with evidence and being a felon in possession of a firearm, records show.

According to court records, Maestas had made a verbal agreement with Martinez’s grandmother to lie to investigators about Martinez’s role in the murder.  

When an investigation by the state’s Office of the Medical Investigator found a bullet found in Sanchez’s body was too small to have come from Maestas’ gun, the sheriff’s office uncovered the false statements and charged Martinez, records show.

Sanchez graduated from Española Valley High School in 2004 and had a 17-year career with Los Alamos National Laboratory working in radiation protection.

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