Just under two weeks ago, 39-year-old Sonny Martinez pleaded not guilty in Yolo County Court to charges of attempted murder and firing at an inhabited dwelling. The incident resulted in 13-year-old Alize Valadez being hit by a bullet in her head as she was lying on the couch watching a movie at her West Sacramento home.
But family members of Sonny Martinez told the Vanguard on Tuesday that he was in Stockton at time and they believe they can prove it.
His wife, Jessica Martinez, told the Vanguard that Sonny Martinez had moved to Stockton, where the family was living with relatives, in late July or early August. The 39-year-old was trying to get a new start and kick his long-time methamphetamine addition.
Martinez has a record, going back to kidnapping charges in 1994 and drug charges in 1999, but his most recent criminal history was in 2007 – eight years ago.
His wife told the Vanguard that the family was eating at the Pizza Guys in Stockton from about 8 pm until 9 pm. The shooting occurred at about 8:50 pm on a Saturday night in the 900 block of Solano Street, where the girl, at home with her grandmother, was struck in the head after several bullets were fired into the residence.
The police in their report did not disclose any connection between Mr. Martinez to the victim and her family. Media reports had the family of the victim telling local reporters they had never seen him before.
Jo Ann Ramirez, the mother of Sonny Martinez, showed the Vanguard phone records from the night of the incident showing that Mr. Martinez and she were engaged in a phone call on the evening of October 24 from 8:25 pm until just before 8:44 pm. He told her that he was in Stockton at the pizza place with his wife and family.
Jessica Martinez told the Vanguard that the family knew nothing about any of this until police and the SWAT team knocked down their door in Stockton to arrest Sonny Martinez at 6:00 am a few days later, on October 27.
The warrant filled out by Sergeant Jason Winger of the West Sacramento Police Department was reviewed by Supervising Deputy DA Rob Gorman at 1:20 am on October 27 and signed by Judge Janene Beronio, who approved a night search.
The statement of probable cause has been sealed. Jessica Martinez said the only thing the police took from the home was a computer.
The family is not clear on how Mr. Martinez was linked to the shooting. They believe that he may been tracked through his phone via a cell tower and that someone may have told police it was Mr. Martinez.
They also noted that the police may have tracked his truck, registered to his brother-in-law, which he had in Stockton.
Mr. Martinez did not own a gun, they said. The gun they found belonged to a cousin and was not on him at the time. They said that police have done ballistics on the gun and his hand, but have not gotten the results.
One thing of interest, they said, is that Sonny Martinez is left-handed but he is missing a good portion of his left index finger, meaning he could not shoot a gun.
A status conference was held on Monday in this case and a preliminary hearing is not ready to proceed at this time. He was denied bail and remains in custody.
Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt, in a motion last week, said that a review of Mr. Martinez’s cell-phone texts indicated he was in Stockton at the time of the shooting.
Naturally, most of these questions will have to be resolved by the time a preliminary hearing goes forward, at which time the District Attorney’s office will have to put forward evidence tying Mr. Martinez to the scene.
The victim reportedly remains in a coma and on a ventilator at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
—David M. Greenwald reporting