ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The case of the Uber driver who shot and killed a customer on I-25 is going to the state supreme court. The driver claims it was a case of self-defense but the justices will decide if he should be charged with murder.

Officer: “Did you see anybody fire the gun?”
Clayton: “I am the one who discharged the firearm.”

Uber driver Clayton Benedict admits he fired the shot that killed his passenger James Porter on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2019. Police say Benedict pulled over on the shoulder of I-25 near Montaño and told Porter to get out after his friend vomited in the car and refused to pay a clean-up charge.

Benedict says they were arguing outside the car when Porter tried to hop in the driver’s seat and threatened to run him over – so he shot him. Witnesses told police what they heard.

Officer: “How many times do you believe the gentleman was shot?”
Caller: I believe it was three times. I believe it was ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!'”

At the preliminary hearing, prosecutors played Benedict’s conversation with police and he told investigators the only reason it happened was because Porter was out of control.

Investigator: “What do you think would’ve happened if you didn’t shoot him?”
Benedict: “I think he would’ve got into my car, hit me or attempted to hit me, or gone straight onto traffic and injured other people because he was quite intoxicated.”

Prosecutors were asking a judge to send the case to trial on second-degree murder charges and the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. A district court judge ruled there was not enough evidence for the second-degree murder charge.

Benedict’s attorney asked the supreme court to look into the case. The court ruled Wednesday they will review the appeals court decision. Second-degree murder brings a potential 15-year prison sentence while voluntary manslaughter carries up to six.

There’s no word yet on when the case will be heard in the supreme court. the justices will also consider what criteria the appeals court should use before altering the charges set by a judge in a preliminary hearing.