Chavez Charles Martin Jr.
Chavez Charles Martin Jr.
FARMINGTON — Emerson and Marlene Norberto have buried three of their five children.

The most recent was 34-year-old Anthony Norberto, who was stabbed to death in Farmington last week.

The man accused of killing him made an appearance in magistrate court Wednesday. His case was continued for two weeks.

"We lost a daughter last month, and here we go again," said Emerson Norberto, Anthony Norberto's father. "He was a pallbearer for his sister, and now a month later, there were people carrying him."

Anthony Norberto's sister, Marilyn Billy, 39, died after a heart attack on March 16. Eighteen years ago, Nathaniel Norberto, 14, committed suicide in Farmington, said Emerson Norberto. The teenager was Anthony Norberto's younger brother.

The family was still grieving for Billy when Anthony Norberto died. Emerson Norberto said the family took the news of Anthony Norberto's violent death hard.

Police said Chavez Charles Martin Jr., a 49-year-old Shiprock man, stabbed Anthony Norberto with a six-inch hunting knife in the upper chest, neck and back at about 9 p.m. on April 15, according to court documents. Before the stabbing, police said the men were arguing in Martin's car, which was near Anthony Norberto's house on Melba Lane.

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When police found Anthony Norberto, he was bleeding profusely in the front passenger seat of the truck. He died 30 minutes later at San Juan Regional Medical Center.

Martin was arrested at 11 p.m. on April 15 in the lobby of a hotel. He was charged with an open count of murder, which means the charge can be amended to first- or second-degree murder or voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Prior to Martin's court appearance, prosecutors and Martin's defense attorney came close to reaching a resolution — likely an agreement to what charges Martin would face in district court or a plea agreement — in the case, said San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien.

But when the two sides couldn't resolve the case, Martin and the state agreed to continue the case two weeks to prepare for a preliminary hearing that will determine what charges Martin will face in district court.

"When we have a case that is serious like this on short notice, it is better if we take time to prepare and give the state and the defense a chance to get their ducks in a row," O'Brien said.

Eric Morrow, Martin's attorney, said he doesn't think his client will face a first-degree murder charge at trial.

"I don't think he should have been charged with anything because I know the rest of the story," Morrow said. "But based on the probable cause statement, a second-degree (murder charge) would be appropriate. A first-degree (murder charge) is reaching for the stars and trying to get my client to plea. It isn't there."

A first-degree murder conviction carries a possible life sentence, while a second-degree murder conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

While Morrow declined to answer specific questions about Anthony Norberto's death, he did say that Martin acted in self-defense.

The men had been friends for about a year prior to Anthony Norberto's death. The day he died, the men were together in Anthony Norberto's backyard, drinking and working together, according to police and a neighbor.

Despite the reported friendship, Wednesday's hearing was the first time many members of Anthony Norberto's family had ever seen Martin.

"That's the first time I've seen him and he wouldn't look me in the eyes," said Emerson Norberto. "I think he's a coward."

Ryan Boetel can be reached at rboetel@daily-times.com; 505-564-4644. Follow him on Twitter @RBoetel