Dominic Murphy, left, seated with his lawyer Roger Bargas, listens to testimony during his trial Tuesday at the Curry County Courthouse. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
Lawyers for a Clovis man charged with two counts of first-degree murder sought to discredit a prosecution witness who admitted as a part of a plea bargain he was involved in the incident.
Joey Martinez testified Tuesday during the first day of the trial he saw Dominic Murphy, 26, shoot and kill Alex Rodriguez, 29, and Wesley Griest, 39, west of town in the early morning hours of Feb. 28, 2003. Martinez said the killings were related to a $150 drug debt.
But defense attorneys questioned the testimony of Martinez, who said he is schizophrenic and has a history of hallucinations. He said he had stopped taking his medication for about three days prior to the incident.
Defense attorneys also questioned the intentions of Martinez, who pleaded guilty to two counts of accessory to second-degree murder and two counts of tampering with evidence in connection with the incident. As part of the plea agreement, Martinez was ordered to serve 29 1/2 years in jail and testify against Murphy.
Deputy District Attorney Andrea Reeb warned jurors that Martinez “is no angel,” a multiple felon and an accessory to the slayings.
She also told jurors of the defense’s intention to discredit the prosecution’s eyewitness.
Martinez testified he and Murphy were following Griest and Rodriguez when the victims’ car was forced to stop at a dead end on a dirt road.
Martinez and Murphy were angry at the victims for throwing hammers at Murphy’s car during the pursuit, Martinez said. Additionally, he said the two men seemed to be giving them the run-around and weren’t intending on coming up with the money Rodriguez owed.
When the cars stopped, Martinez said Murphy exited his vehicle with a hand gun, walked to the driver’s side of the victims’ car and opened fire on Griest.
Rodriguez got out of the car and ran away, Martinez said.
As Griest tried to scramble out the passenger’s side of the vehicle, Murphy shot him in the head, Martinez said.
He said Murphy then chased Rodriguez into the dark.
Martinez said he moved the car around to survey the terrain with the headlights and spotted the two men, Murphy and Rodriguez, walking back toward him.
“Dominic had him by his shirt,” Martinez said. Quite suddenly, Murphy shot Rodriguez in the head, Martinez said.
Martinez and Murphy then went to a friend’s house, Martinez said, and later that day he took the gun to the Prince Lounge and sold it for $80.
Following the account, defense attorney Roger Bargas of Tucumcari pressed Martinez about his diagnosed schizophrenia. Court testimony showed that Martinez was diagnosed with the disease in 1993.
Martinez said later in 2003 he was having trouble with his medication and would wake up with visions of an evil leprechaun.
Additional testimony revealed Martinez had consumed a 12-pack of beer in about four hours shortly before the slayings.
Using a long string of questions and transcripts from Martinez’s interrogations, Bargas sought to demonstrate inconsistencies between Martinez’s court testimony Tuesday and statements he made to police a couple of months after the crime.
The cross examination revealed that Martinez originally claimed another man shot and killed Rodriguez and Griest.
On redirect, Reeb asked Martinez why he had misled investigators in April of 2003.
“I said that to try to throw them off (from getting us),” he responded. He said he didn’t want the police to know it was Murphy who committed the crimes in February because of their friendship.
Once he struck the deal with the state, his lawyer instructed him to be honest, he said.
Reeb asked pointedly, “Who did you see shoot?”
Martinez answered: “Dominic.”