ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A political newcomer who lost his bid for the New bond Mexico statehouse. And is accused of many drive-by shootings at the homes of Democratic. Officials will remain in custody pending trial. After a judge agreed Monday that he is a danger. to the community
Solomon Pena, 39, is charged with many counts that include shooting into a dwelling. And possession of a firearm by a felon. Detectives identified him as their prime suspect using a combination of cellphone. And car records collected at the lawmakers’ homes, witness interviews and bullet casings.
No one was injured in the shooting, but the case has renewed debate. Over whether lawmakers should make. It harder to grant bail to people accused of violent crimes.
As New Mexico struggles with persistent violent crime.
Penn’s defense attorney has raised questions about the credibility of a confidential witness. Who shared information with authorities. Saying some of the statements used in a criminal. Complaint were contradictory. He also argued that his client’s criminal history. Did not involve bond any violent convictions. Or crimes involving firearms and that he had not been in trouble with the law since. His release from prison in 2016, except for two traffic citations.
Prosecutors outlined Penner’s time in prison. And described him as the “ringleader” of a group he assembled. To shoot up people’s homes, saying ballistics tests determined a firearm found. In the trunk of a car Penner registered to was linked to at least one of the shootings. . Another man was seen driving that vehicle and was arrested on an unrelated warrant.
State District Judge David Murphy agreed with the defendants. Pointing to the nature and circumstances of the allegations. And the fact that elected officials appear to be targets of at least intimidation or at worst harm.
Murphy acknowledged that Penn’s attorney was able to uncover many inconsistencies. That troubled the court, but “the weight of evidence against this defendant is strong.”
“I find that the state has met its burden to prove.
That there are no conditions of release that would protect the safety of others,” he said.
Authorities arrested Pena on Jan. 9 for allegedly paying. The father and son and two other bond unidentified men to shoot up the officers. Homes in early December and early January. The shooting followed his failed Republican bid in a district. Long considered a Democratic stronghold. He claimed that the election was rigged.
Police are also investigating donations to Penn’s campaign. Including contributions from a man accused of conspiring with her and her mother. Detectives said they learned through witness interviews. That Pena arranged with an unknown source to funnel. Donations to his campaign in other people’s names.
Investigators said they are trying to determine whether.
. After his 2007 arrest in what authorities described as a rob. -And-grab theft scheme targeting retail stores.
Defense attorney Roberta Yurcik said the past few years have seen. Pena turn her life around, earning a bachelor’s degree. Buying a house and working a job selling roofing.
He pointed to the criminal charges and argued that his client.
To weapons seized by authorities during the investigation.
Prosecutors and a police detective confirmed during. The hearing that ballistics tests are continuing. On weapons and casings found at the shooting scene and on stolen cars believed to have been used in the crime.
Yurcik also argued that prosecutors did not present any text. Messages or other evidence, aside from bond confidential witnesses. That his client alleged told other men to shoot at the officers’ home.
Deputy District Attorney Natalie Lyon told. The court that Pena should remain in custody.
“With access to a phone, he was able to communicate with individuals. He was able to convince other individuals to engage in very violent and dangerous acts,” he said. “A GPS check isn’t going to stop him from accessing a phone. Pretrial services aren’t going to stop him from accessing a phone. Even putting him under house arrest isn’t going to stop him from accessing a phone.”
An evaluation that took into account his criminal history.
And various other factors made recommendations for. What level of probation Pena should receive if released. But Murphy agreed with prosecutors to keep him in custody.
The risk assessment tool has become. The focus of bond much criticism as the public pressured Democratic lawmakers. And Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to consider changes. Amid Albuquerque’s ongoing struggle to combat violent crime. And what many consider a “revolving door” of criminals. Judicial system.
Superior court administrators in New Mexico defended the tool. Developed by the Arnold Foundation. And used in dozens of jurisdictions around the United States.