MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS, 8 MONTHS TO LIFE FOR FATAL STABBING, SOLICITING THE MURDER OF A WITNESS AND DISSUADING A WITNESS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2015
Twitter: @GeorgeGascon
CONTACT: Maxwell Szabo (415) 553-9089
Alex Bastian (415) 553-1931

MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS, 8 MONTHS TO LIFE FOR FATAL STABBING, SOLICITING THE MURDER OF A WITNESS AND DISSUADING A WITNESS
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the Honorable Kay Tsenin, sentenced Martin Martinez, age 26 of San Francisco, to 25 years, 8 months to life for the October, 2008 stabbing of 17 year-old Angelo Zuniga at a high school Halloween party. Martinez was charged with murder, soliciting the murder of a witness, and dissuading a witness.

“The ends to which this defendant was willing to go in order to fabricate evidence and silence a witness is truly disturbing,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Ensuring justice is served can be a timely and cumbersome process, but we are pleased that this violent man was held accountable for his actions.”

According to court documents, Martinez was being exceedingly confrontational at the party. Witnesses testified that during the party the defendant was being belligerent and confrontational, and before the fatal encounter and assault on Zuniga he tried to fight with two other males. One witness attempted to smooth things over, but Martinez threatened to slit his throat.

Later, Angelo Zuniga was dancing with Martinez’s sister. The fact that Zuniga was trying to dance with his sister enraged Martinez, and armed with a knife he stabbed Zuniga seven times. According to court documents, the Defendant fled the scene, took off the shirt he was wearing and got rid of the murder weapon. Police arrested him a few hours later and he was subsequently booked on homicide charges.

According to court documents, while in custody awaiting trial, the defendant used his gang connections to try to have a witness killed. He used gang associates to fabricate evidence to support a claim of self-defense. However, his coded messages and phone calls were discovered and deciphered, leading to the additional charges of soliciting the murder of a witness and dissuading a witness.

Court documents revealed that the front sides of letters sent by Martinez from jail were innocuous, however, the reverse side of the letters included indented writing – writing where an individual makes indentations on the back of an otherwise “normal” letter so that somebody can later decipher these hidden messages by taking a pencil and moving it back and forth across the etchings. The hidden messages on the back of these letters were directions from Martinez to a gang member to kill a key witness and get another witness to lie for him. In one instance, Martinez said, “You need to smack him before my trial. I’m not coming home if he get on the stand.” The letter was written three months prior to this June 2012 trial date. In regards to another witness Martinez went on to say, “I need him to get on the stand and say that the dude pulled out a knife on me, and when the lights came on, the knife disappeared, dude’s knife disappeared. I need him to beat this case.”

Family and supporters of the deceased victim appeared in court today to provide victim impact statements. Following the sentencing, Judge Tsenin ordered the defendant turned over to the California Department of Corrections.

This successful prosecution would not have been possible without the excellent work of SFPD Sgt. Mike Brown, Retired SFPD Inspector John Cleary, DAI Inspectors Daryl Jackson and Hank McKenzie, and Victim Advocate Jean Hassett. Heather Trevisan was the prosecutor on the case.

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