AG Balderas Announces Uber Driver Will Face Trial for Murder After Court of Appeals Reverses District Court Ruling

January 31, 2022
Contact: Jerri Mares — (505) 321-4372

ALBUQUERQUE,  NM—Today,  Attorney  General  Hector  Balderas  announced  that  the New  Mexico Court  of  Appeals  reversed  a  district  court’s  dismissal  of  a  second-degree murder  charge stemming  from  a  fatal  shooting  on St.  Patrick’s  Day  2019.  

Clayton Thomas  Benedict  was  charged  with both second-degree murder  and manslaughter  in the  death  of  James  Porter,  but  the district  court  found the State did  not establish  probable  cause  for  the  murder  charge.  The State appealed,  and  the  Court  of Appeals  found that  the  undisputed  evidence  supported  a reasonable  belief  that  a  person in Benedict’s  position  would not  have been  provoked to the point  of  using  lethal  force  and remanded the case  for  the  murder  charge to  be reinstated.

“No New Mexican should be  harmed in  one’s  own community.  I  am  pleased that  the Court of  Appeals  got  it  right  and  I  look  forward to  this  going  to  a jury  to  decide,”  said  Attorney General  Balderas.

Benedict,  working  as  a  driver  for  Uber,  picked up the victim,  James  Porter,  and Porter’s friend.  Benedict  and  Porter  got  into  an  argument  about  a  cleaning  fee after  Porter’s  friend vomited in  the car.  Benedict  pulled the  car  over  and ordered  both  men to  get  out  of  the car.  The argument  continued and Benedict  pulled a gun and  fired  five shots,  killing  Porter. In a statement  to  police,  Benedict  claimed he was  provoked due to  Porter’s  threats  that he would get  back  in  the car  and run Benedict  over.

This  case is  being  prosecuted by  the  Second  Judicial  District  Attorney’s  Office.  The OAG was  presented on appeal  by  Assistant  Attorney  General  Benjamin  Lammons.