AP NEWS

Española man faces murder charge after assault victim dies

May 16, 2019

A man accused of punching another man during a fight in Española last month is facing a murder charge after the victim fell into a coma and died at the hospital, court records show.

Jesse Vasquez, 40, of Española is accused of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the April 6 attack on Senovio Martinez, 60, near Martinez’s home on Avenida Canada, according to an arrest warrant and criminal complaint filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court.

Police and paramedics found Martinez lying in the street bleeding from the back of his head, according to the warrant and police reports.

A 35-year-old woman who lived with Martinez told police she had argued with Vasquez about a burglary at the residence two days before.

Vasquez then hit Martinez with a closed fist, a neighbor told police. Martinez was found on the ground outside the neighbor’s home, and Vasquez left on a bicycle.

Martinez was taken to the hospital in Española, where a detective went to interview him but learned he was unable to speak. Martinez later was flown to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque in critical condition. Medical staff on April 25 told the detective that Martinez’s condition was deteriorating.

Martinez had suffered intracranial fractures consistent with an assault and was in a coma, requiring a ventilator to breathe, the detective said.

On April 28, Martinez died. An autopsy the next day determined the cause of death to be homicide, from the head injury Martinez suffered in the fight.

The detective interviewed Vasquez in the Santa Fe County jail on May 2, after he had been arrested by Pojoaque police on a warrant for violating his probation. Police did not detail the probation violation, but Vasquez has a history of burglary, assault and drug charges going back two decades, court records show.

According to the warrant, Vasquez initially denied hitting Martinez but then admitted that he “backhanded” Martinez one time during an argument.

Vasquez claimed the 35-year-old woman at the home had stolen his wallet. About Martinez, he told the detective, “I guess he fell and I left,” the warrant said.

Vasquez told the detective he hadn’t meant to harm Martinez, and when asked if he knew the name of the man he had attacked, he “chuckled and stated that he didn’t have anything else to say,” the detective wrote.

The woman told police the fight “probably” stemmed from Vasquez having stolen her phone April 4. She said she did not report the incident at the time, but she told police Vasquez had hit her in order to escape and dropped his wallet while climbing out her window.

On April 6, the woman told police, she had warned Vasquez to leave the home and then went inside to get Vasquez’s wallet. When she returned outside, she discovered Martinez had been hit.

Detective Bryon Abyeta said a funeral is planned Thursday for Martinez, who was an unemployed veteran.