New Mexico judge David Murphy has ordered former Republican state house candidateheld in pretrial detention in Pena’s conspiracy case, saying there were no conditions of release that would ensure public safety.
Pena isof five people to fire bullets into the homes of two state legislators and two Bernalillo County, New Mexico, commissioners. Pena, who lost his race for the state house overwhelmingly in November, has made a series of baseless election fraud claims and had pressured the county commissioners not to certify the election results.
Pena previously served seven years in prison for prior burglary-related crimes. He is now accused of organizing a scheme to fire the bullets at the homes of the Democratic election officials in December and January.
During arguments to hold Pena in custody, New Mexico prosecutor Natalie Lyon said, “All the defendant needs to be dangerous is access to a phone. With a phone he can convince other individuals to engage in very violent and dangerous acts.”
In arguing against his release, Lyon said he allegedly took part in one of the shootings and was unhappy the impact was so high up on the wall and so late in the night.” She said he also allegedly tried to target the officials when they were “up walking around, to injure them.”
Albuquerque police believe that Pena,, including multiple felonies, masterminded a conspiracy with four accomplices to spray the homes and offices of at least four Albuquerque-area Democrats with bullets. Police said Pena met one of his alleged co-conspirators during the seven-year prison term that Pena served for running a burglary ring.
One of the alleged accomplices was arrested in Pena’s vehicle after officers pulled the car over, police said. Inside, officers also found guns, cash and hundreds of fentanyl pills.
Pena was arrested last week by an Albuquerque police SWAT team.
“At this point, the charges against Mr. Pena are merely accusations that have not yet been tested by the full rigor of the judicial process. Mr. Pena is presumed innocent of the charges against him,” said Roberta Yurcic, Pena’s attorney, in a statement provided to CBS News last week. “Mr. Pena and I look forward to a full and fair investigation of these claims. I plan to fully defend Mr. Pena and fiercely safeguard his rights throughout this process.”