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Security worker's murder charge dropped

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Crime > Kaiwee Martinez allegedly shot Taos man in self-defense

By John Severance

On Friday, Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas R. Rodella announced the arrest of Kaiwee Martinez, 35, who was charged with an open count of murder in the Nov. 3, 2012 shooting death of Lawrence Sandoval at the woman’s Alcalde home.

Securing our Country (SOC), the lab security force that employs Martinez, released the following statement.

“Kaiwee Martinez is employed by SOC Los Alamos (a subcontractor to LANS, LLC) as an unarmed security officer,” SOC spokesperson Liddie Martinez said. “She has been on leave without pay since the day of the incident in November 2012.

She has not had access to Los Alamos National Laboratory since that time.”

“We conducted a comprehensive, detailed investigation into Mr. Sandoval’s homicide over the course of the next 10 weeks,” Rodella said. “Early on in our investigation we determined that the defendant’s account of events preceding the shooting was not credible.”

It was reported in Saturday’s Albuquerque Journal that District Attorney Angela ‘Spence’ Pacheco dismissed the case against Martinez without prejudice — meaning charges could be refiled by the DA’s office in the future — pending further investigation into the case.

Martinez had told RASO investigators that she shot the 33-year-old Sandoval in self-defense.

“Items of evidence, some of which were obtained pursuant to search warrants issued in November, underwent forensic analysis. We received the results of that analysis earlier this week and obtained a warrant for the defendant’s arrest,” Rodella said.

The sheriff said RASO deputies arrested the defendant without incident, Thursday and booked her into the Rio Arriba County Detention Center in Tierra Amarilla.

The arrest warrant, issued by First Judicial District Judge Sheri A. Raphaelson, set Martinez’ bond at $100,000, cash only.

According to an Associated Press story last month, investigators appeared to doubt Matinez’s self-defense claim.

Martinez claimed the Taos man barged into her home Nov. 3 and tried to undress her at knifepoint. She says she reached under a pillow, grabbed a loaded gun and shot Sandoval and then fled from her home and called 911.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that police statements filed in the case indicate the woman gave differing versions of the events that led to the shooting. But the woman’s lawyer says his client “has nothing to hide” and “this is a self-defense situation.”