Solomon Pena pleads not guilty following grand jury indictment
Solomon Pena, a 2022 Republican candidate for an N.M. House seat, was charged in connection to shootings at Democratic politicians' homes in Albuquerque. (Photo from his official campaign Twitter feed in mid-November)
Solomon Pena pleaded not guilty during a Friday arraignment hearing, his first court appearance since a grand jury indicted him on 14 felony charges related to an alleged plot to shoot at the homes of elected officials.
Pena, an election denier and failed 2022 GOP candidate for the N.M. House, is accused of enlisting help from four men to shoot at the homes of several elected Democratic officials. The 39-year-old has been in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center since his arrest on Jan. 16. Pena will remain jailed ahead of his trial following an earlier ruling by a judge that ordered he held without bond.
In the Jan. 19 motion asking the court to keep Pena incarcerated, Assistant District Attorney John Litchford wrote:
“The defendant’s actions show what lengths he is willing to go when he is dissatisfied with reality. There is no reason to believe that someone so unwilling to accept reality will give credence to court-ordered conditions of release.”
Pena sought election to represent House District 14 as a Republican last year but lost to Democrat Miguel Garcia in a 74% to 26% landslide. The district includes some of southern Albuquerque and the South Valley. He has not conceded the loss, contending that the system was rigged.
A grand jury indicted Pena on Jan. 30 on two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; two counts conspiracy to commit shooting at a dwelling or occupied building; four counts shooting at dwelling or occupied building; two counts criminal solicitation to commit shooting at a dwelling or occupied building; one count criminal solicitation to commit shooting at a dwelling; two counts of motor vehicle theft; and one count of attempting to commit aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
Pena’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
Pena previously served nearly seven years in prison following a 2018 conviction on charges of larceny, burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and bribery or intimidation of a witness, court records show. The “smash and grab” thefts occurred at big-box retail stores. In some of the thefts, vehicles were crashed into buildings in order to gain entry, including a Kmart in Albuquerque.
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