Farmington, New Mexico

From the Farmington Daily Times of October 20, 2007

Charges dismissed for man accused of killing brother

The Bloomfield man accused of killing his brother in July had all charges dismissed after a preliminary hearing Friday.

Armon Martinez, 24, had been charged with first-degree murder for shooting his older brother Roman three times on July 24, 2007, after repeatedly receiving violent threats from him.

The preliminary hearing was held in Farmington Magistrate Court to determine if the District Attorney’s Office had sufficient evidence to prove the killing was intended or planned, which is necessary for the case to be heard by a jury in District Court.

By dropping the charges, Magistrate Judge William Vincent expressed that he interpreted the shooting as one of self-defense.

The case for self-defense was best made in the testimony of Armon’s brother, Jerome, who told the court Armon was backing up, telling his brother to “get back” as Roman approached while yelling threats.

“If a man can break you in half with his bare hands, most of us would feel it’s perfectly acceptable to arm yourself and defend yourself against such a man,” Defense Attorney Gary Mitchell said, referring to Roman’s powerful build and demeanor.

The ruling was a disappointment, assistant district attorneys Carolyn Wilber and Eric Morrow said.

“We presented a good case,” Wilber said. “I believe we pretty well established a motive for a first-degree (murder).”

That office plans to refile a new case against Martinez, likely reducing charges to second-degree murder, Wilber said after the decision.

“We’ll go back and put our heads together and we’ll see what we can refile on,” she said.

Roman, who several family members testified was incredibly violent when he was drunk, had threatened Armon throughout the day while Armon was serving as Roman’s designated driver, as well as in the preceding days.

Arnold Martinez, the men’s father, told the court he was “petrified” of Roman, and had even attempted to file a restraining order against Roman the day he was killed.

The prosecuting attorneys appeared to be scrambling for objections against witnesses testifying to how afraid Armon really had been of Roman.

(More)

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