Do Authorities Have the Right Man in the West Sac Shooting of a 13-Year-Old Girl?

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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

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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47 thoughts on “Do Authorities Have the Right Man in the West Sac Shooting of a 13-Year-Old Girl?”

  1. Barack Palin

    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.

    He can still shoot a gun.

    The family is not clear how Mr. Martinez was linked to the shooting. They believe that he may been tracked through his phone through a cell tower 

    This is what I’m not getting, if he was tracked through his cell phone then it will either put him in Stockton or at the scene of the crime.

    1. Tia Will

      BP

      He can still shoot a gun”

      That would depend upon the cause of the missing portion of the finger, and the condition of the remainder of his hand and/or the degree of dexterity he posses with this right hand.

      “If he was tracked through his cell phone then it will either put him in Stockton or at the scene of the crime.”

      It would establish the location of the phone at the time of the crime. Whether he was in possession of it at the time would be a separate issue.

      1. Barack Palin

        That would depend upon the cause of the missing portion of the finger, and the condition of the remainder of his hand and/or the degree of dexterity he posses with this right hand.

        Really?   Even David backed off this.

        It would establish the location of the phone at the time of the crime. Whether he was in possession of it at the time would be a separate issue.

        I agree.

        1. Tia Will

          BP

          Even David backed off this.”

          I don’t see that there is anything for me to “back off from”. I did not make any claim about whether or not his partial missing finger might or might not be a factor. All I said is that we do not have enough information to judge on that and that I think it is a reasonable thing to have reported. Since we do not know the cause, or his degree of injury or timing of the injury, I simply do not believe that we can speculate on its relevance one way or the other.

          hpierce

          Yes, I have seen many patient’s with contractors of various types. I also worked in a rehabilitation unit for one year prior to getting into medical school. I worked with some patient’s who made remarkable recoveries from devastating injuries. However, I also worked with patient’s who struggled without seeming to make any significant progress from what might have been considered by some to be relatively minor injuries. I simply believe that everyone is different in their rehabilitative potential and we would all be speculating if we were to claim that this was or was not a mitigating factor at this point in time.

          Is it really that hard to admit that we just don’t know ?

  2. Paul Thober

    From the article above:

    “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.”

    You CANNOT be serious.

      1. Barack Palin

        Not with his left hand anyway

        He can still shoot a gun with his left hand using his middle finger as the trigger finger.  Plus, whoever the actual perp is in this crime was spraying bullets into a house, it wasn’t about accuracy.

  3. Tia Will

    Fair enough. Still seemed like a reasonable thing to report.”

    It is an entirely reasonable thing to report since we do not know why the finger is partially missing.For example, if it was because of an industrial injury, was there additional damage to the left hand? If is s congenital, are there other physical or functional deficits with the left hand. The flip side of the coin is that this might or might not matter since some people are nearly ambidextrous, while others, such as myself, use one hand almost exclusively and the other only for support. All of that would have to be taken in to account so, reasonable to report, unreasonable to leap to conclusions one way or the other.

    1. hpierce

      Too many “ifs” Tia… David did the same over-reach of an “if”… if it was congenital, I can pretty much assure you he would NOT be “left-handed”.  His body and mind would have long adjusted, and he would be by default, right-handed.  The fact that he is described as being “left-handed” tells  me that he adjusted to WHATEVER caused the finger problem, and still uses the left hand… except, maybe, IF (irony intended), the portion of the finger was avulsed/damaged RECENTLY.

      Tia, have you ever encountered folk with Dupretryn’s contracture?  They adjust, and find ways to go on with 90% or more of the faculties they had before the condition expressed itself.

      The “facts” that guilt or innocence (or failure to determine guilt) will rest on, will have NOTHING to do with the finger or the ability to fire a weapon.  Please trust us on this, and move on to substantive issues in this case.  You’re starting me to question your medical judgement, at least in the physiology of the hand.

       

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I thought it was an interesting point on the finger, but really the key is whether he was in Stockton at the time of the shooting. If he was, he clearly wasn’t the shooter. The DA has the statement of probably cause sealed, it’s worth noting it took them nearly 9 months on the Green case to establish their theory, so they’ll take their time on this.

        1. Barack Palin

          Your sentence should read:

          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  might have difficulty shooting a gun left handed.

        2. hpierce

          OK… will show my ignorance… IF the family believe they can establish FACTUAL innocence, and IF you think it will take 9 months to establish a “theory”, and IF the accused is still in custody, WHY isn’t the accused’s attorney pushing for a “speedy trial”?

          I know that if I was factually innocent, I’d want the trial immediately.  I’m obviously missing something.  Don’t get why I’d have to spend 9-10 months in custody while the “state” is trying to get “its ducks in order”.

          Meant as an honest question.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            First of all, I have not spoken to the defense attorney, so I don’t know the answer. They may well push for a speedy trial – again I don’t know if they will or will not. But based on my experience covering trials of this sort, getting reports takes time. Investigations take time. Etc. I don’t think you know if you’d want the trial immediately because there is a lot of evidence involved that you have to get.

  4. Davis Progressive

    hpierce – the defense doesn’t have as strong as a hand in forcing a speedy trial as you seem to think.  i know you were asking an honest question here, but the answer is while technically speaking, the defense can push for a preliminary hearing in ten days and a trial in 60 days.  in reality a da most of the time can get an extension to do their investigation and if they don’t get the extension, they can drop the case and refile, keeping the guy in custody all the while and re-start the clock.

    1. theotherside

      ” they can drop the case and refile, keeping the guy in custody all the while and re-start the clock.”

      Inaccurate.  If the DA dismisses and re-files, the defendant would be released.  No pending charge or case means he cannot be held unless there is some other condition such as a parole or probation hold.

        1. theotherside

          I believe you but it was probably because the defendant had another pending case or a parole/probation status.  But outside of that a person cannot be held in custody unless there is a pending criminal case, it is illegal.  DA’s do not have the power to hold onto someone without a criminal complaint … even dozens of them.

  5. Davis Progressive

    the key question that many will ask is what evidence the da’s office has to connect martinez with the crime.  that’s not something that they are going to disclose until they have to if samantha green in any indication.

  6. Michael Harrington

    Any video available from the pizza place, or surrounding streets?  How about a charge receipt at the register, from the defendant’s card and his signature on the receipt?  I’m sure this will all come out.  Something in that sealed affidavit convinced the judge to continue holding the suspect without bail.

    1. sisterhood

      I also wonder about cash register receipts and security camera footage at the pizza place. And perhaps other eye witnesses placing him at the pizza place?

      “Something in that sealed affidavit convinced the judge to continue holding the suspect without bail.”

      Why do you assume that?

       

       

  7. hpierce

    Ok… another honest question(s)… is a “sealed affidavit” something that the accused cannot see?  Or their counsel?  Just “sealed” from the public?  Not my element of SME…

    [oh, I’m not planning on being in a situation where I’ll be arrested on a felony charge any time soon.]

    1. Davis Progressive

      it’s a way to make a showing to the judge without tipping their hand.  at some point – during the preliminary hearing – the defendant is entitled to see the case the state has against him or at least enough of the case so that there is probable cause for the judge to hold one over for trial.  however, until that point, the defendant is not necessarily entitled to see the sealed affidavit or evidence against him.

      1. hpierce

        Followup question… so, to be arrested, you are entitled to know the charges against you, but not the evidence leading to you being charged?  [And I do appreciate your help in answering my questions!]

        1. Davis Progressive

          there are different stages.  when you are arrested, the police may tell you what you are being charged with.  when you are arraigned you are formally charged.  a preliminary hearing compels the state to present evidence that shows they have probable cause to hold you to answer to those charges.  and then when you go to trial, the prosecution must prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

          to answer your question, when you are arrested you may not even the charges, that is the job of the arraignment.

        2. hpierce

          DP… don’t ‘grok’ your response (which I appreciate)… you said, “…the police may tell you what you are being charged with.”  Maybe I’ve watched too many TV shows… I have been under the impression that they shall tell you at least some charges for arresting you, although they are free to amend and/or augment the charges later.  Are you saying I could be arrested and held without any clue of WHY? [Assuming I’m not an obvious perp]

    2. sisterhood

      “I’m not planning on being in a situation where I’ll be arrested on a felony charge any time soon.”

      Wrongfully accused people do not plan for a wrongful accusation.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Good point. On Saturday the family of Ajay Dev did a presentation at our event. They obviously believe Ajay is innocent, but the comment they made is that never in a million years did they expect him to be in that position in the first place and they argued if he could go through that, anyone could. So HPIERCE, I suggest you take that into account.

  8. Tia Will

    DP

    the police may tell you what you are being charged with.”

    Just for clarification. The police “may” tell you ? This implies that they also  may not tell you ? Does this really mean that one could be arrested and not know the reason until arraigned ! Really ?

      1. hpierce

        Scary…. can you or others provide cites?

        So, they have to “mirandize” you, but don’t have to say why? I get that if you are on the edge of a riot, in a bank when it’s getting robbed, but just walking down the street? Even if you ask why?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          They only have to Mirandize you when they question you. But basically you have a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney upon arrest. They do have to have arraignment within three days.

    1. sisterhood

      “Does this really mean that one could be arrested and not know the reason until arraigned ! Really?”

      Tia, 

      It’s a very frightening and illogical process.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      That’s correct: http://volokh.com/2012/09/26/no-the-officer-doesnt-have-to-tell-you-why-he-is-arresting-you/

      As the Court explained in Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146 (2004): “While it is assuredly good police practice to inform a person of the reason for his arrest at the time he is taken into custody, we have never held that to be constitutionally required.” In Devenpeck, the Court rejected a requirement that probable cause for an arrest must be measured by reference to the offense that the officer named at the time of arrest. Such a rule was improper because it hinged on the subjective belief of the officer, and because it would have “perverse” consequences…

  9. Tia Will

    Such a rule was improper because it hinged on the subjective belief of the officer, and because it would have “perverse” consequences…”

    This is perhaps one of the most absurd twists of logic that I have ever heard. So it is proper to arrest and detain for up to 72 hours based on the subjective belief of the officer, but it is improper to tell the person why they are being arrested based on the same subjective belief ?  Kafka couldn’t do better than this !

    1. hpierce

      Yeah, and your profession helps in the “72 – hour hold” that does exactly the same for those physicians who determine an individual may “pose a threat to others or themselves”.  Kafka would equally love what physicians do.  Just saying…

    1. hpierce

      Very interesting if “a bullet” was found at the scene.  Also, strange.  Usually, a projectile/slug is found in the victim (unless it “passed thru”), and a casing/shell may be found at the scene.  A complete bullet?  Very strange.

        1. hpierce

          A “guess”, but you posted as if it was a “fact”?  You wrote “bullet”, now you say “whatever they found”?  Ah, “journalism”/”reporting”!  I get it.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The fact I posted was the non-ballistics match. I also posted it as a comment. I don’t consider that a fair swipe.

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