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Edgewood suspects plead not guilty

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – All seven defendants who are accused in the shooting death of an Edgewood gas station attendant pleaded not guilty to several charges Thursday, and five of them will await trial in jail cells.

The group is accused of hatching a plan to rob the fuel booth at the Smith’s in Edgewood on Feb. 11.

Court documents say Daniel Gonzales, 29, entered the booth with a handgun and took $49.20 from the cash register – a total that amounts to about $7 each if split among those accused of participating the fatal robbery.

The clerk, 62-year-old Michael Pelkey, got into an altercation with Gonzales and was shot by one of Gonzales’ companions, Daniel Martinez, 30, according to prosecutors’ court motions. Pelkey died on the way to the hospital.

Martinez accidentally shot himself sometime after the robbery but told his crew that he’d been shot by a hotel security guard.

Martinez, Gonzales and the other defendants – Morgan Ramirez, 30, Donald Gregory, 46, Veronica Martinez, 30, Eileen Sandoval, 48, and Misty Nevarez, 29 – have been indicted on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, three counts of tampering with evidence, and one count of conspiring to tamper with evidence.

Gonzales and Daniel Martinez are also each charged with an additional count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

All seven defendants face life plus about 30 years in prison if convicted on the charges.

Thursday, six of the defendants pleaded not guilty in Santa Fe District Court. Gonzales waived his arraignment and also pleaded not guilty.

Nevarez and Ramirez were released on their own recognizance and will await trial on house arrest under GPS monitoring. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled that the rest will be held in the Santa Fe County jail without bond.

All of the defendants’ arrest warrant affidavits – investigators’ statements describing the case – in Santa Fe Magistrate Court have been sealed by state District Judge Pedro G. Rael of Cibola County.

“Information contained in the warrant being released to the public has a substantial probability of impeding and/or materially altering the investigation,” Rael’s order says. “… Based on the above, there is an overriding interest that supports sealing the documents which will be prejudiced if the matter is not sealed.”

But prosecutors included details from the affidavits in their motions to hold the defendants until trial.

State Police followed tips and on Feb. 15 saw Ramirez, Gonzales, Daniel Martinez, Nevarez and Gregory on surveillance video at a Rodeway Inn in Albuquerque, the motions say.

A man who was staying at the hotel told officers they came to his room the day of the robbery. The man said at one point that Daniel Martinez, whom he knew as “Juero,” left the room. They heard a gunshot and Daniel Martinez starting pounding on the door, claiming he’d been shot in the leg by security. They all fled the room after that.

State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo previously told the Journal that Daniel Martinez spent seven days in the hospital after he accidentally shot himself.

A State Police tactical team went to the Amberly Inn & Suites and arrested Ramirez on Feb. 15. Ramirez gave one of the more detailed accounts described in the court motions.

On the day Pelkey was killed, the motions say, the group of seven went to the area of the Edgewood gas station in two vehicles. Ramirez told investigators that Sandoval was at the gas station in a car with Veronica Martinez and called Gonzales to tell him that the fuel booth was unlocked.

The rest of the group arrived in a white pickup truck and parked behind the fuel booth, where Gonzales and Daniel Martinez put masks on.

After Gonzales took money from the cash register as Pelkey was attending to a female customer and a child, Pelkey followed Gonzales and tried to “apprehend” him from behind, Ramirez told officers.

“The struggle continued to the driver side door of the truck, and Daniel Martinez then shot the clerk. … Morgan (Ramirez) stated the clerk was shot over $50,” the motion says.

They group fled the area.

Police later found out that the truck had been abandoned, clothes were washed and guns were disposed of and given away.