FBI snares Grand Junction fugitive in Mexico

Attempted-murder charges filed in incident from 2010

Juan Martinez

The FBI this month reached into Mexico to arrest a man wanted by Grand Junction police for attempted murder stemming from a 2010 restaurant brawl, authorities said.

Juan Martinez, 33, was advised by Mesa County Court Judge Bruce Raaum on Friday on two counts of attempted second-degree murder, and two counts of vehicular assault, for allegedly using his 2003 Dodge pickup truck to run over two men, causing critical injuries to both, in the parking lot of Carl’s Junior, 2468 U.S. Highway 6&50, during the early morning hours of Oct. 3, 2010.

An FBI agent contacted Mesa County authorities earlier this month inquiring if they “still wanted” Martinez for his outstanding Grand Junction arrest warrant, Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle said Friday.

Martinez was returned to Texas and extradited this week to the Mesa County Jail, Tuttle said during a bond hearing.

Judge Raaum set bond in the case at $200,000, cash only. The judge said Martinez has known for years he was wanted in Mesa County because Raaum himself received a letter from Martinez in 2011, insisting he was innocent of the charges in the case.

Martinez was identified by multiple witnesses as the driver of a Dodge pickup taunting an angry crowd between Carl’s Junior and nearby Tequila’s, 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50, before critically injuring two men, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

It all started when Martinez’s brother, Miguel, allegedly assaulted a woman inside Tequila’s. The affidavit said a woman was punched repeatedly in the face during an argument. When the brothers left the restaurant, angry friends of the assault victim followed and a large crowd gathered in the parking lot.

“Juan drove out of the parking lot to the east,” the affidavit said. “(Witnesses) saw several people chasing the truck as it sped away toward Carl’s Junior. (Witness) said she could hear the sound of tires squealing coming from the Carl’s Junior parking lot.”

Another witness said the truck initially wasn’t trying to leave and twice circled Tequila’s.

“Juan drove to the east, leaning out of his window and taunting the crowd,” the witness said. “As they would get close he would accelerate on the gravel (under construction road) to throw rocks at the people on foot.”
Two men were eventually struck by the pickup, suffering a host of critical injuries. 
Grand Junction police told the Daily Sentinel in July 2011 that Miguel and Juan Martinez were believed to have possibly been killed in Juarez, Mexico, during a wave of violence between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels.

An arrest warrant is still active for Miguel Martinez, police spokeswoman Kate Porras said.


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