By Darrell Todd Maurina
Family members of Joe Martinez Jr. wept in the Curry County district courtroom Thursday afternoon when the judge denied pleas to reduce his bond on charges that include vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a July 4 crash that killed a Clovis woman.
The defendant’s attorney, Tye Harmon of Clovis, cited district court rules stating that defendants should be allowed release prior to trial unless they may flee the area or pose a danger to a specific person or the community at large when he argued for a reduced bond.
Martinez, 32, is currently held in the Curry County Adult Detention Center on a $50,000 cash bond in connection with the death of Bobbie Lynn Sandoval.
According to Harmon, his client has strong family ties in the community and does not pose a danger to a specific person.
Harmon proposed a compromise: to address concerns that Martinez poses a danger to the entire community, the judge could grant Martinez work release on condition that he wear an electronic tether, report daily to the adult probation office, and take Antabuse, a drug that makes people sick if they drink. In return, Harmon asked the judge to reduce Martinez’ bond to 15 percent cash or allow him to use a bail bondsman to obtain release.
“This family has minimal financial resources; $50,000 is essentially no bond for them. There is no way they can pay that bond,” Harmon said. “We have confirmation with his employer that if you grant work release with an electronic tether, he has his job back.”
Ninth District Attorney Brett Carter said the defendant’s criminal history makes him a risk.
Listing Martinez’ case record, Carter said he has multiple prior arrests for domestic assault, battery on a household member and driving while intoxicated, and due to several prior convictions faces up to 19 years and 90 days in jail if convicted on all charges.
“The fact that he ran from officers and ran into someone else’s house does show that he is a flight risk,” Carter said. “In this state, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated, it is illegal to drive without insurance, so what assurance do you have that he will comply with the bond conditions?”
Melissa Equia, sister-in-law of the woman killed in the July 4 crash, appeared before the court with several family members to ask that Martinez not be released from jail.
“Joe Martinez Jr. had no remorse after he chose to get behind the wheel intoxicated and speed away from the police,” Equia said. “As cowardly as he could be, he jumped out to run. He had to have just about stepped over Bobbie who was lying there.”
Clovis Police Sgt. Richard Johnson, who was on duty that night, joined the request that Martinez not be released on bond.
“From a personal standpoint I don’t want to have to talk to another victim’s family and explain to them how he was able to avoid the consequences of his actions,” Johnson said.
Harmon told Judge Ted Hartley that if the district attorney was allowed to bring in Martinez’ prior court history, the judge should note that in all of his previous cases, Martinez had showed up for court appearances.
That argument didn’t persuade the judge.
Martinez’ family members declined comment following the judge’s decision.