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Fatal stabbing defendant will be held pending trial

SANTA FE — A Santa Fe District Court judge ruled Monday that a man charged in a fatal stabbing will be held in jail until his trial.

Jonathan Kelly, 61, is charged with one count of first-degree murder for fatally stabbing Robert Barela, 51, at Kelly’s Lopez Street apartment on Nov. 18. Police found Barela dead on the sidewalk with stab wounds to his upper torso around 8:30 p.m. that day. Kelly later told a crisis negotiator that he stabbed Barela in self defense.

Jonathan Kelly of Santa Fe, charged with murder in Nov. 18 fatal stabbing, attends a court hearing on his case on Monday. Em120219b

Jonathan Kelly of Santa Fe, charged with murder in a Nov. 18 fatal stabbing, attends a court hearing on his case on Monday. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, at a detention hearing Monday, took note of Kelly’s admission and was also concerned about a felony domestic violence charge Kelly picked up in July that was dismissed about a month later.

“I’m not satisfied that house arrest is going to keep the community safe,” Marlowe Sommer said. “I don’t think we have a good pulse on Mr. Kelly.”

According to a criminal complaint, Paula Macon said she, Barela and Kelly had been drinking in Kelly’s apartment all day. She said Kelly became enraged and started throwing stuff around the apartment after speaking to a woman who knocked on his door. She said Barela suggested they leave, but for some reason Kelly stabbed Barela in the spot where Barela was found on the sidewalk.

But Macon later recanted her statements and said she doesn’t remember what happened before Barela was stabbed because she was very intoxicated and “blacked out.”

James Plummer, Kelly’s attorney, said the state’s evidence in the case wasn’t very strong and noted that Macon recanted her statement. He asked for Kelly to be released on his own recognizance.

In July, Kelly had been arrested after a woman said choked her during an argument and later hit her with window bars when she later returned to his apartment, causing her to bleed. The case was dropped in August without an explanation.

The day of the recent fatal stabbing, Kelly refused to come out of his apartment when police got there, causing the SWAT and crisis negotiation teams to respond. Kelly told a negotiator from inside the apartment that Barela had lunged at him with a knife, and Kelly was able grab Barela’s arm and use the knife to stab Barela.

Kelly was taken to the hospital when he was found unconscious in the apartment, apparently from taking too many prescription pills. He was released from the hospital on Nov. 25, court records say.

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