By Darrell Todd Maurina
One of two men accused in a Feb. 28 double homicide pleaded guilty Monday in Curry County District Court.
Joey G. Martinez, 27, of Clovis will serve 29 1/2 years in state prison — with no possibility of parole for 25 years — after pleading guilty to two counts of accessory to second-degree murder and one count of shooting at a dwelling.
The plea was part of an agreement to an interview with investigators, providing evidence against Dominic Murphy, 25, of Clovis, who officials say was the primary person involved in the shooting of Alex Rodriguez, 29, and Wesley Griest, 49.
Murphy faces a Feb. 9 trial in Curry County District Court on two counts of first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, tampering with evidence, and bribery of a witness.
Attorneys for Martinez and Murphy could not be reached for comment.
District Attorney Brett Carter said the plea agreement with Martinez was essential to making the case against Murphy.
“Without that, there is a good possibility the second person might never have been brought to trial,” Carter said. “When we sat down and went over this case with the sheriff’s office, we knew there was another individual out there who was the principal and most involved. We agreed that if we made any deal it would call for substantial prison time as well as the person being required to give a statement.
“Obviously, anytime somebody is involved in a crime like this we want to see him serve as long as possible,” Carter said. “ We agreed we would not offer probation or a light sentence in return for cooperation. Otherwise we were going to go forward with the trial of Mr. Martinez. We’re happy he finally agreed to a substantial prison sentence.”
Sheriff Roger Hatcher said drugs were the motive in the double homicide.
“The synopsis that we have is that the two victims owed the two suspects money for drugs and, in an attempt to collect, something happened and it was decided they were going to kill these two guys and that’s what they did,” Hatcher said. “Mr. Martinez got involved in the drug trade, using, selling, trading, and his life took a path that essentially ruined any chance he had at being a success at anything.”
Hatcher and Carter both said Martinez’ guilty plea appeared to be out of remorse.
“To tell the truth, he didn’t really shorten his sentence very much, but he did step up and take responsibility for his part in all this,” Hatcher said. “I think there is some genuine remorse, he is accepting responsibility for his part in it, and for at least the next 25 years he will be a resident in the Department of Corrections. When he gets out he is going to be an old man.”
Carter said the stiff penalty led to Martinez’ cooperation.
“The sheriff’s office and our office decided to play hardball,” Carter said. “I think a lot of people, when they realize they’re going to be spending a lot of time in the Department of Corrections while the other guy involved is walking free, they decide to cooperate so they won’t be the only one charged with the offense. …
“You put enough pressure on them, they usually give up that name.”