Test: Alcohol factor in deadly crash

By Darrell Todd Maurina

The driver in a fatal July 4 crash faces more charges now that state test results are back showing his blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
According to 9th Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter, Joe Martinez Jr., 32, will be charged either today or Thursday with homicide by moving vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating beverage. Test results showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.18 four hours after the crash. The New Mexico legal limit is 0.08.
Martinez has been held on charges of vehiclular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident involving great bodily harm or death, eluding a police officer resulting in death, criminal trespass, and three counts of leaving the scene of a property crash since the deadly accident.
According to police reports, Martinez crashed into eight vehicles and killed pedestrian Bobbie Lynn Sandoval in the 500 block of 18th Street in west Clovis while trying to evade police just minutes after the city’s July 4 fireworks display concluded.
Sandoval was pinned between two of the vehicles.
Carter said he will also file charges of leaving the scene of an accident involving great bodily harm or death, aggravated fleeing from a police officer and several related lesser counts.
“We get a couple of these (drunk driving deaths) a year, but as we know, even one is too many,” Carter said.
The new charge is a third-degree felony. According to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Code, that could bring added penalties of three years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Magistrate Judge Rick Hollis said at the arraignment for Martinez that he faced a maximum 30 years on the original charges, and set a $50,000 bond.
Carter said Tuesday afternoon that Martinez remains in the Curry County Adult Detention Center, having been unable to post bond.
The accident remains under investigation.
The Clovis Police Department is no longer commenting on the case, except to indicate that a patrol officer following Martinez at the time of the crash, Officer Rodney Wallace, is not a target of the investigation.
“There is no investigation against the officer,” said Police Chief Bill Carey. “We will be conducting our investigation into the incident and not the officer.”
Kenneth Akens, a leader of a group of five people who dispute police accounts of the death of their friend Bobbie Lynn Sandoval, declined comment Tuesday evening until he could speak with other friends and neighbors who witnessed the July 4 crash.
Akens and his friends said the police wrongly reported that Wallace used his police siren while trying to stop Martinez and said the sound of the siren might have given Sandoval time to get out of the way of the oncoming vehicle.