Fugitive homicide suspect arrested after Española standoff

May 18—Homicide suspect Kevin Martinez was arrested Wednesday following an hourslong standoff at an Española residence.

Martinez, 22, is accused of fatally shooting Elmer Sanchez Jr. in October during an argument Sanchez was having with neighbors at a mobile home park in the small Rio Arriba County community of Hernández. He had been on the run for about three months.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Maj. Lorenzo Aguilar said his agency received information Martinez was at an Española residence on El Llano Road and confirmed Martinez's location through surveillance of the home.

The standoff lasted over three hours, he said, bringing additional personnel from several other law enforcement agencies.

"We got two other people out of the residence. [Martinez] did not want to come out. We had [a tactical] team from state police — with their assistance we were able to get him out," Aguilar said.

Martinez suffered injuries during the standoff from tear gas, Aguilar said, and he was also bitten by a police dog. He said Martinez is at an area hospital receiving medical treatment but declined to provide a location.

"I don't want to disclose his location to people that might — just for his safety," Aguilar said.

He said Martinez likely would be booked into the Rio Arriba County jail within 24 hours.

Others at the El Llano Road residence will be facing charges for helping Martinez flee from law enforcement, Aguilar said. He declined to disclose the names of Martinez's associates who were detained during the standoff but said information will be released later.

Martinez was living with his grandmother at the Hernández mobile home park while on house arrest in a rape case at the time of Sanchez's death. He is charged with several counts of rape stemming from a 2020 incident, in which he is accused of kidnapping a 14-year-old girl and holding her against her will for about two weeks.

Another man, Jerrid Maestas, was initially charged in Sanchez's death. According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in February against Martinez, the 22-year-old's grandmother made a deal with Maestas so he would not tell law enforcement Martinez was present during the shooting if she didn't tell them Maestas — a convicted felon — had a gun. The murder charge against Maestas was dropped, but he is still facing charges of tampering with evidence and gun possession by a felon.

Martinez, charged with first-degree murder in February, had evaded authorities for several months. Just before the charge was filed, a sheriff's sergeant and deputy stopped Martinez's vehicle as they were investigating a burglary in El Rito. Court documents said his car matched the one used in the incident. Still, the sergeant and deputy let him go. Martinez was later charged in connection with the burglary.

Aguilar said Thursday he recently learned Martinez had been given a traffic citation when he was stopped in February. Court documents state Martinez was driving a car with a license plate for another vehicle, had a suspended license and had no insurance or registration for the car.

Martinez eluded sheriff's office personnel again in April after law enforcement received a tip he would be at a Dollar General in Hernández. Aguilar said Wednesday's tip about the El Llano Road residence was provided by a different person.

"We've received dozens of tips and leads, and this one just — ultimately — led to his arrest with good information," the major said.

Ramona J. Martinez, who is listed as Kevin Martinez's attorney in online court records, did not respond to a request for comment.

Martinez is scheduled for a hearing Friday morning in Rio Arriba County Magistrate Court. The District Attorney's Office plans to file a motion to keep Martinez in custody pending trial, spokeswoman JoHanna Cox wrote in an email.