Stolen jewelry links a man awaiting trial on burglary and tampering with evidence charges to Ethaan Boyer, a respected screen printer and digital design artist who was murdered in his West Alameda Street home about a year ago, according to court documents.
Among the charges against Sam Leyba, 43 – who has been in and out of jail since his arrest last March – is possession of jewelry that belonged to Anne Oxenhandler, Boyer’s widow.
Police speculated since early in the case that Boyer, 34, was likely shot when he interrupted someone in the middle of a burglary at his house on Feb. 23. No one has been charged with his murder.
No comment was available from Santa Fe police Friday. But police have said previously that they seized items suspected of being stolen in local burglaries when Leyba’s house on Ephriam Street was searched in March after another homicide.
In that second case, the body of David Martinez, 53, who had been shot to death, was found in Torreon Park only a few blocks from where Boyer lived.
Suspicion in Martinez’s death quickly focused on his brother, Felix Martinez, 42, and their acquaintance, Leyba. A subsequent search of Leyba’s home on Ephriam Street turned up what police said were goods stolen in area burglaries, but police didn’t say that any of the stolen items belonged to Boyer or Oxenhandler.
There was speculation in the neighborhood that David Martinez’s death was connected to the shooting of Boyer. But police said repeatedly last spring that they hadn’t confirmed a link between the two cases.
Felix Martinez reportedly told police he acted in self-defense by shooting his brother during an argument when it looked as though David Martinez was reaching for a gun.
Leyba told officers that at his Ephriam home on March 11, the day before David Martinez’s body was found, he and the Martinez brothers were drinking shots of alcohol and he went into his bedroom to watch TV. He said he heard the Martinez brothers arguing and dishes shattering, so he told them to stop destroying his property, and David Martinez left.
Police reports indicate David Martinez was shot in the chest and his body was dumped in Torreon Park by his brother and Leyba, who used a dolly to transport him.
Felix Martinez has been charged with the murder of his brother and with tampering with evidence. Leyba faces two cases, for a felony tampering with evidence charge and four charges of receiving stolen property. Leyba was initially also charged with murder, but the murder charge was dropped as the case moved up from magistrate court to district court.
In July, the Santa Fe police for the first time confirmed there was a link between the murder of Boyer and the David Martinez killing. Capt. Aric Wheeler said police have a weapon and DNA evidence that connects David Martinez to Boyer’s home in the 1100 block of West Alameda. He would not share details of the evidence.
Wheeler also said in May that Leyba and Felix Martinez are persons of interest in the Boyer case. Wheeler said further investigation would include comparing evidence in the Boyer murder to DNA taken from the two men and that police weren’t looking for other suspects.
It turns out that a May 24 criminal complaint filed against Leyba in state District Court lists jewelry belonging to Oxenhandler as the basis for one of Leyba’s four counts of possession of stolen property.
The complaint alleges that on or about March 14 – three weeks after Boyer was slain and two days after David Martinez’s body was found – Leyba “intentionally received, retained or disposed of jewelry” belonging to Anne Oxenhandler. The charging document alleges Leyba knew or believed the jewelry had been stolen. The jewelry was worth more than $250 and less than $500.
The fact that Leyba had been charged with possessing items stolen from Boyer’s wife wasn’t announced by law enforcement authorities and escaped the notice of news organizations until a caller brought it to the attention of reporters this week.
A preliminary hearing on Leyba’s various charges was supposed to be held in state District Court Thursday, but the hearing was postponed because of a communications glitch between the court and the district attorney’s office. Leyba’s lawyer, David Silva, did tell District Judge Steven Pfeffer that a plea deal for Leyba has been discussed, which prosecutor Tim Williams later confirmed.