A joint motion hearing was held last week to combine the cases of Ray Rivera and Justin Fernandez, both of whom are being charged with the alleged 2021 homicide of Antonio Martinez.

After hearing arguments from both sides, 8th Judicial District Judge Emilio Chavez approved the state’s motion to join the two cases and try them together.

The discussion surrounding a joint trial arose in a plea conference for Fernandez on Jan. 17, when 8th Judicial District Judge Jeffrey Shannon ordered District Attorney prosecutor Cosme Ripol to file the motion. Fernandez rejected the plea on Jan. 17.

The brothers Rivera and Fernandez are both charged with the alleged murder of Martinez, which occurred on Dec. 2, 2021. According to police, Rivera, Fernandez and Martinez were together at a warehouse on Dea Lane when a fight flared up between Martinez and the brothers, who then retrieved a firearm. According to Rivera, the alleged murder involved substance use. Rivera turned himself in shortly after the incident, confessing to shooting Martinez in the head accidentally.

According to Rivera, he intended to “pistol whip” Martinez after their fight but ended up fatally shooting him.

The three were not alone that night; there were four witnesses to the event, three of whom claimed to see Rivera shoot the weapon, according to the statement of probable cause. One witness even attempted to hold Rivera back and commandeer the weapon, but he broke free.

According to a procedural order filed on Monday (March 13), Rivera and Fernandez are being considered for depraved-mind murder, in concordance with the in-deliberate nature of Rivera’s account of how Martinez was killed.

Rivera is being charged with first-degree murder, a capital felony; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony; and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, a fourth-degree felony. Fernandez has an identical list of charges, as well as attempt to commit a felony, a fourth-degree felony.

The procedural order marks the date of the trial for June 26.

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