Martinez sentenced to life in prison
The jury in the trial of Bryan Martinez handed down the harshest punishment possible for murder: life in prison and a $10,000 fine.
District Attorney Wes Mau said the jury decided to stay late Thursday evening to deliberate on the sentence for Martinez, whom the jurors found guilty of the 2015 murder of Isaac Olvera. Martinez had been charged with capital murder, but the jury chose the lesser charge of felony murder.
The sentencing followed an afternoon of testimony from witnesses including several law enforcement officers who have encountered Martinez, Olvera’s mother and the mother of Olvera’s child.
One of the officers, Richard Lozano, a corrections officer at the Hays County Jail, characterized Martinez as well-mannered and cooperative. Lozano wrote Martinez up once, for allegedly possessing ink and a tattoo pen, which are considered contraband inside the jail. When the defense asked about Martinez’s behavior, Lozano said, “He’s been respectful,” and when asked about offenses he had known Martinez to have committed in jail, Lozano said he had never written him up for fighting or causing a disturbance.
Prosecutors called Olvera’s girlfriend, Bernadette Gonzalez, to the stand and asked how her life had changed as a result of Olvera’s death.
“It’s changed a lot,” she said. “I ended up getting in trouble. My daughter now has to grow up without her father.”
Crying and flustered, Gonzalez said that nothing could replace what she and her daughter lost when Olvera was killed, but, “I want justice done.”
Olvera’s mother, Corina Galvan, wept as she took the stand. She said that when someone asks her how many children she has, she answers, “Four. Oh, no, I don’t have four children anymore.”
Galvan described family gatherings where Olvera’s relatives still expect him to show up and then realize that he is gone.
“I don’t get to hear Isaac say, ‘I love you, Mom, can you make me some tortillas?’ … The memories that I have are all that I can hold on to,” she said.
She said that Olvera’s grandmother and the rest of the family all have been affected by Olvera’s death and that Gonzalez was hit particularly hard.
“This affected her dramatically,” Galvan said. “She took a wrong path she was not on before.”
Prosecutors asked the jury to give Martinez a life sentence, characterizing him as a criminal who took Olvera’s life, ruined other lives and poses a danger to the community. The defense asked the jury to consider Martinez’s background -- a tragic childhood and mental and emotional issues -- and his behavior at the time of the murder.
Defense attorney James Reeves noted that according to testimony, after Martinez shot Olvera he ran, while his co-defendant Jonathan Guia took out a pistol and waved it around.
“When the gun went off, it was undisputed that the defendant turned and ran like a little kid,” Reeves said, while Guia took out a weapon. “Why in the world would you do that?”
Prosecutors countered that Martinez had a record of criminal behavior, from possession of marijuana to acts of violence including two stabbings.
“It’s who he is,” said Ralph Guerrero from the district attorney’s office. “There’s no changing him.”
The jury had a wide range of punishments available: a life sentence, or between five and 99 years of incarceration, with the potential to add a fine of up to $10,000. Mau said the only real difference between a 99-year sentence and life is that if an inmate never received parole and was in prison for 99 years, the inmate would be released (which is possible, though unlikely, since inmates can earn good time credit), while a life sentence can never be served out regardless of good time credit.
Mau said Martinez will be eligible for parole in 30 years, minus the time he has already spent in custody awaiting trial.
Martinez shot and killed Olvera on Oct. 2, 2015, at a residence on Thorpe Lane. According to affidavits, Martinez and two other men had arranged to purchase drugs at the residence but showed up with guns to rob the dealer instead. Olvera was at the residence when Martinez entered with a sawed-off shotgun, and when a struggle broke out between the men Olvera was shot dead.