Boyfriend charged in killing of Taos Pueblo artist - Albuquerque Journal

Boyfriend charged in killing of Taos Pueblo artist

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The longtime boyfriend of noted Taos Pueblo artist DeAnna Autumn Leaf Suazo has been arrested and charged in her death, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

Suazo was found dead near her car outside her Taos Pueblo residence early Nov. 13.

In the 19-page complaint and statement of probable cause filed against Santiago Martinez, he admits to an FBI agent that, after the two drank heavily during the day and into the evening, he struck her and then hit her with her vehicle.

Martinez, 29, is charged with what are called offenses committed within Indian Country and murder.

DeAnna Autumn Leaf Suazo (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The victim is identified in the court documents as Jane Doe, but Suazo’s family has confirmed to the Journal that it was Suazo, 29, who was found dead.

In a Nov. 22 interview with an FBI agent, Martinez said Suazo wanted to leave, and Martinez did not want her to.

“Santiago stated he hit and shoved Jane Doe. When Santiago pushed Jane Doe, she fell on the driver’s side of the car,” the court documents state.

“Santiago was angry, and got in the car and pressed on the gas, and hit her. Santiago stated he was mad and furious when he got in the car,” according to the complaint. “He knew it was his fault she was not here. Santiago stated it was an accident, but it happened.”

‘Blunt force injury’

Suazo was “covered with significant bruising,” the Taos Pueblo Department of Public Safety chief told the FBI when they were notified.

An autopsy was performed by the Office of the Medical Investigator on Nov. 14, but “the cause and manner of death are still pending and under investigation,” court documents state.

The autopsy found a “pattern type injury” on Suazo’s chest, shoulder and arm. “There were alternating linear lines within the area of bruising, which could be consistent with a vehicle tire being on her left chest area,” according to the complaint. Bleeding between her skull and her skin indicated “blunt force injury,” the complaint indicated, citing the autopsy.

The probable cause statement outlines desperate attempts to revive Suazo with CPR by witnesses called to the scene, before she was taken by an ambulance driven by the Taos Pueblo police chief to a Taos hospital.

Witness statements described previous violence by Martinez against Suazo and text messages in which she indicated she wanted a break from their relationship, according to court documents.

Past altercations

Martinez called his mother at 3:30 a.m. the day of the incident to tell her Suazo was dead. She and others went to the residence on Grinding Stone Road, which “was occupied by Jane Doe and her boyfriend Santiago,” according to the complaint.

Martinez’s mother told agents that the couple had argued in the past and that Suazo would ask her to intervene.


One witness who went to the scene told FBI agents that the couple “got into a physical altercation last year around Christmas time, during which Santiago had Jane Doe locked in a room, pinned down to the ground, and choked her.”

In statements to FBI agents on the morning Suazo was reported dead, Martinez at first gave differing versions of what happened, according to court documents.

Martinez said he and Suazo were at their residence on Nov. 12, and started drinking that day into the following morning.

Suazo made dinner and they split a 12-pack of beer and then a four-pack, along with tequila shots, and “smoked two bowls of marijuana,” according to court documents. He played video games while she worked on her art.

Martinez said Suazo went outside to listen to music in her Land Rover Discovery Sport and he went inside to get wood for the fire. He told agents that when he went outside, Suazo “was bleeding and he saw bruising on her face, but did not know what happened.” He said he got in the car and backed it up to get the tire off Suazo’s arm. Agents noted to Martinez that he would have driven the car further onto Suazo if things occurred as he stated and he changed his story, according to court documents.

‘How am I going to live without you?’

Martinez did not call police or 911, but did call his and Suazo’s family members to tell them she was unresponsive. Suazo’s sister came to the home and blamed Martinez for Suazo’s death, according to documents.

Agents noted cuts and abrasions on Martinez’s hands, and he said that “he had punched a wall,” according to the probable cause statement.

Various family members were outside the home and Martinez “appeared to be intoxicated,” the Taos police chief told the FBI before they arrived.

When agents arrived, they found the Land Rover running and turned it off, court documents said.

After agents turned off the car, they found “what appeared to be a dark in color, dried red substance near the inside door handle.”

There was blood on the forearm area of Martinez’s sweatshirt that he identified as Suazo’s and said it was from grabbing Suazo while she was on the ground.

Search warrants were issued for the couple’s cellphones on Nov. 19.

“I’m not saying this because I am mad,” Suazo wrote in a Nov. 5, text message. “I’m saying this because it’s how I have been feeling for a long time. We really need to take time from each other. I’m not in the right place to be in a relationship with you,” the text said, according to court documents.

A witness told agents Martinez was yelling toward Suazo’s body, “What are you doing … what are you doing, how am I going to live without you?”

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