In Aug. 2014 a Santa Fe (NM) man dialed 911 to say that he had shot someone at his home with a .22-cal. weapon. The man stayed on the phone for nine minutes as police responded. Police were investigating a claim of self-defense from Edwin Watters, who was working with the victim at a construction job site.
A Santa Fe carpenter will go to trial on a first-degree murder charge for shooting to death his former co-worker, a state District Court Judge ruled Thursday.
At the end of a preliminary hearing for Edwin Watters, 57, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer decided there was probable cause for the case to go to trial.
Watters admitted shooting Diego Sena, 45, six times at the Sena family compound, about 4 feet from Watters’ back door, on East Alameda in Santa Fe on the night of Aug. 14. The two worked on a home remodel job at the site before Sena was fired by his brother-in-law because of his animosity towards Watters and his combativeness.
Defense attorneys argued Watters was afraid of Sena because of prior threats and shot him in self-defense.
Based on probable cause, “I hold the defendant to answer for first-degree” murder, Marlowe Sommer announced after almost three days of testimony, which started last week.
The “deliberate intent” required for first-degree or premeditated murder “may be arrived at in a short period of time,” said the judge. The evidence presented did not reach the level required for self-defense, said Marlowe Sommer.
Watters is free on bond and on electronic monitoring. At prosecutor Juan Valencia’s request, Marlowe Sommer said she would reconsider conditions of release at a later date
“Edwin acted to defend himself from an attack,” public defender Megan Dorsey said after the hearing, speaking for her client and co-public defender Ben Baur. “We are confident that, when a jury hears all the evidence, they will understand.”
Watters’ claim is an “imperfect self-defense” because he did not testify during the hearing about any fears he had of Sena, said prosecutor Juan Valencia. The prior threats Sena made to Watters mentioned in others’ testimony were “remote in time,” said Valencia.
Watters was very calm and said he “‘can handle this by myself,'” Valencia reminded the court in recounting a call Watters had with a female friend, who urged him to call police, just before the shooting. “Mr. Watters was beckoning Diego to come closer,” said Valencia. “He (Watters) wasn’t afraid at all.”
Watters was trying to stop an “ongoing pattern of harassment” from Sena and told Sena’s sister that he (Watters) “was afraid for his life,” Dorsey said in her closing. “Edwin Watters never intended to kill Diego Sena” and did not plan for it, she said, adding there was insufficient evidence to show premeditation for first-degree or any of the other lesser included offenses: second-degree murder or voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. “He (Watters) shot an attacker,” said Dorsey.
No trial date has been set.