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Defense attorneys and prosecutors issued opening statements Tuesday in the murder trial of Joshua Martinez, offering jurors mixed interpretations of a security video showing the fatal shooting of Martinez’s uncle in 2020.
Martinez, 26, is charged with first degree murder on July 30, 2020, in which 48-year-old Curtis Martinez was shot dead in a neighborhood in northeast Albuquerque. Martinez also faces two grievous assault charges for allegedly pointing a gun at two other people he confronted on the day of Curtis Martinez’s murder at his mother’s home.
The trial before the 2nd district court is scheduled until Friday.
Prosecutors showed the jury a video captured by a surveillance camera on a neighbor on Block 400 in Virginia NE. The video shows Curtis Martinez driving towards his nephew, who steps over to the side of the pickup and shoots into the driver’s side window.
However, defense attorney and prosecutor disagreed on whether Curtis Martinez’s actions posed a threat to his nephew.
Martinez’s attorney Joseph Sullivan said the video showed Joshua Martinez shot and killed his uncle in self-defense when the older man drove the pickup truck toward him to beat his nephew.
“His own uncle is trying to injure, maim, or even kill him,” Sullivan said. Martinez only had a moment to avoid the vehicle, he said. “His intention was to save his own life, and he has a right to do so.”
Assistant District Attorney Dana Beyal told jurors the video showed Martinez had time to dodge the slow-moving pickup truck before firing a shot through the truck’s driver window and hitting his uncle in the head.
The pickup drove a short distance on Virginia NE and hit a tree. Police found Curtis Martinez slumped over the bike with a bullet wound in the head. He later died in a hospital.
Beyal told the jury that at the time of the shooting, Martinez was unaware that a neighbor across the street had a surveillance camera that recorded the shooting.
“He didn’t know that everyone could see that he was never in danger,” said Beyal. Martinez was no more than 18 inches from the driver’s side window when he fired the fatal shot, she said.
“He didn’t kill his uncle in self-defense,” she said.
Martinez also pointed a gun at Sylvia Griego and Victor Martinez, who were in the house his mother had rented at the time of Joshua Martinez’s arrival, according to court records.
Sylvia Griego testified Tuesday that she and her brother Victor Martinez were at the house that day to help someone move out.
She identified Joshua Martinez as the man who arrived at the house with a gun and threatened to kill her and others if they did not leave the house immediately. She and her brother were driving away from the residence when they heard the shot, she said.