Man to be tried in pastor’s shooting
Appeal Staff Writer
Jonathan Stewart was tearful outside the courtroom Friday as he apologized for his part in a drug deal that led to a Carson City man being tried for attempted murder.
“I’m sorry for what I did and I feel bad for (Juan Martinez) sitting there. I look at him right there and I feel sorry for him, I feel responsible,” Stewart said. “I feel bad for the church.”
In a hearing Friday, a judge determined Martinez, 23, of Carson City, will be tried for allegedly shooting Stewart in the head. Stewart testified the altercation took place when he tried to buy methamphetamine.
Stewart, 31, was admittedly nervous as he described the events of Nov. 14, one day after he moved to Nevada to take over as pastor at a Silver Springs church.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said of his reaction to seeing a female in front of Albertsons obviously under the influence of drugs. “I asked her what she was on and she told me crystal. I’m a recovering addict – she triggered me.”
Stewart said the girl told him she could get him some and the two drove over to the Parkway Plaza apartments on West College Parkway. The unidentified girl allegedly went inside an apartment and emerged with four men, two of whom Stewart said were Martinez, 24, and co-defendant Fidel Fuentes, 23.
Stewart said all four men climbed into his vehicle, with Fuentes sitting in the passenger seat and Martinez in the back. He said he refused to drive with all four in the car, so two got out and Martinez and Fuentes allegedly remained.
He said Fuentes directed him to drive farther into the complex and park under a carport. There, Fuentes allegedly got out, leaving Martinez in the center of the back seat, he said.
“Mr. Martinez was nervous, high, sitting in the back seat wiping the gun with a towel,” Stewart recounted. “He said, ‘Everything’s cool. There’s no problem as long as everything works out.'”
Stewart said he kept looking back at Martinez, who eventually told him to not turn around again and moved directly behind his seat.
He said he heard Martinez say, “I don’t want to go to jail again, I’m leaving,” and as Martinez moved to leave, Fuentes reappeared and got into the vehicle.
“Peewee handed me a sack and I looked at it and said ‘That’s Epsom salt,'” Stewart said. When he said he wouldn’t pay, Fuentes allegedly grabbed for the $1,100, paid to Stewart by the church, that Stewart clutched in his fist. He said he reacted by elbowing Fuentes and the two struggled for a short time before Fuentes allegedly yelled to Martinez, “Do it now, do it now, do it now!”
Stewart said Martinez then leaned out the back door, reached in through the driver’s window and put a gun to his head.
“I turned around and said ‘Don’t shoot me in the head.’ He told me to turn around,” he said. “At that point, I felt a pop. I felt like someone had hit me in the head with a sledgehammer.”
Stewart said he saw Martinez try to shoot again, but the gun jammed. When Fuentes allegedly attacked again, the two fought. At some point, Fuentes allegedly grabbed the dazed Stewart’s keys and demanded he open the trunk. He said Martinez was yelling, “Peewee, come on, come on, come on!”
But Fuentes allegedly refused and the two began to rummage through Stewart’s trunk.
Stewart said when he “came to my senses,” and realized the gun was jammed, he chased the two through the complex.
Thinking they would try to take his vehicle, Stewart said he went back to his car and he could see Martinez heading back toward him, but a sheriff’s patrol vehicle pulled into the lot, and Martinez allegedly fled.
Defense Attorney Kevin Walsh reminded Stewart when he was first questioned by investigators he’d said he’d been carjacked at Albertsons.
“I did not want to be exposed for what I had did. I didn’t want my church to find out what I did,” he explained.
Stewart suffered a superficial gunshot wound behind his left ear. He was treated at Washoe Medical Center where he underwent surgery in a search for the bullet. When it wasn’t found, doctor’s stapled the wound and Stewart was released.
“All I wanted was to go home,” he said of his reluctance to help in the investigation. “I couldn’t get the pictures out of my head.”
Martinez will be tried on attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon and principal to robbery. He is also facing unrelated charges of conspiracy to violate the controlled substance act and furnishing or attempting to furnish controlled substance and alcohol to a prisoner. Trial on those charges is set for May 1. He is being held on $100,000 bail.
Fidel Fuentes is charged with robbery. His preliminary hearing was continued Friday after his public defender filed a request to be removed from the case because the division is already defending Martinez. No new date has been set.
Fuentes also faces unrelated charges of home invasion stemming from a May 2004 incident in which he allegedly tried to break into his estranged girlfriend’s apartment when he saw another man there and the other man emerged, killing Fuentes’ friend Juan Carlos Alegria. The shooter, Maximiliano Cisneros, 23, was sentenced to life in prison in February.
Fuentes is also being held on charges of possession of a dangerous weapon, failure to appear on a traffic complaint, contempt of court and drug trafficking. His bails total $276,732.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.