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Death Penalty Trial Set for Wilbur Ernesto Martinez-Guzman in 2019 NV Multiple Murders - Page 3
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Thread: Death Penalty Trial Set for Wilbur Ernesto Martinez-Guzman in 2019 NV Multiple Murders

  1. #21
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Martinez-Guzman's lawyers want to postpone murder trial to conduct mental evaluation

    Lawyers for a Salvadoran immigrant charged with killing four Northern Nevadans in January last year want to postpone his murder trial indefinitely until their experts can safely travel to South America to interview his family and friends as part of a mental disability evaluation.

    On Monday, public defenders for Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman, 21, filed a motion of continuance for his trial, which was set to start on Aug. 31.

    Martinez-Guzman is accused of murdering 56-year-old Connie Koontz and 74-year-old Sophia Renken, both of Gardnerville, and Reno couple Jerry and Sherri David, both in their 80s.

    According to court records, his defense team argued they need to send their medical experts to El Salvador to interview his family members, friends and other acquaintances to determine whether he has an intellectual disability that would make him ineligible for the death penalty if convicted.

    The only obstacle preventing their experts from traveling is the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Frustration on both sides
    According to his defense team, Martinez-Guzman is only "seeking to have the time necessary to conduct a reliable investigation" so that the court can decide if he lives or dies.

    The only party that will benefit from an unreliable investigation, in the short term, is the State, defense attorneys later said in their argument filed Monday.

    The recent court filings were made following a three-day hearing in late July.

    At the end of the hearing, Second District Court Judge Connie Steinheimer ordered both parties to file their arguments before she could make a ruling on the case.

    Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said his team plans to respond within the next 10 days.

    We think the victims and the victims family members deserve better and that the trial needs to go forward, Hicks said in a recent interview with the Reno Gazette Journal.

    Hicks argued the defenses experts should be able to conduct their evaluation using Internet-based communication platforms such as Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime.

    He emphasized that Martinez-Guzman has also been using Zoom to talk to his relatives in El Salvador.

    We cant just throw our hands up in the air and suspend this trial indefinitely until who knows when, Hicks said.

    Meanwhile, Martinez-Guzmans lawyers argued its necessary for their expert to assess and understand what his life was like growing up.

    That means understanding the community, the church, the school and the neighborhood that their client lived in.

    The investigation would also look at whether Martinez-Guzman was exposed to harmful substances as a baby or if he was traumatized, mistreated or neglected.

    It also means talking to school teachers, friends, neighbors and anyone else he interacted with.

    Exclusive story:Carson City woman speaks about her friendship with murder suspect Wilber Martinez-Guzman

    There is no workaround that is acceptable, Martinez-Guzmans attorneys said in their court filing. There is no other method, including Zoom or phone calls that have been relied on in any other capital case during this pandemic.

    The defense team also argued most records would likely need to be requested in person.

    Hicks said its common for defense attorneys to assert that their clients are intellectually disabled, particularly in capital cases.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  2. #22
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Judge confirms Douglas, Reno murders case can be tried in Washoe County

    By Kurt Hildebrand
    Nevada Appeal

    A Washoe County judge denied an attempt by attorneys to dismiss charges against a man accused of killing two Gardnerville Ranchos women in their homes in January 2019.

    Connie Koontz and Sophia Renken were shot to death in their homes three days apart within blocks of one another.

    Salvadoran Wilber Martinez-Guzman is facing the death penalty in connection with those two murders and those of Reno couple Gerald and Sharon David.

    Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson and Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks decided to prosecute the case in Washoe County, where there were more resources to deal with a death penalty case. The Washoe County Grand Jury issued indictments in all four murders, prompting the challenge from Martinez-Guzmans public defenders.

    On Wednesday, Washoe County District Judge Connie Steinheimer ruled the Washoe Grand Jurys indictment of Martinez-Guzman in the two Douglas murders was valid.

    If the charges were dismissed in Washoe County, they could be refiled in Douglas.

    Next week, a hearing has been set to determine if Martinez-Guzmans trial will be set off indefinitely.

    His attorneys are seeking background witnesses from El Salvador to discover if he is competent, and because of the coronavirus outbreak, travelers arent permitted in the country.

    According to background included with Steinheimers order, Martinez-Guzman burglarized the Davids property and found the revolver and ammunition allegedly used in the murders.

    Following his arrest on Jan. 19, 2019, he told a detective that he was working for a landscaper in 2018.

    According to the grand jury transcript, he told the detective that he knew that Renken had tools and machines in her garage because hed previously worked at her house. He had been cleaning a yard near where Koontz lived. His original plan was to take things from the homes and sell them for money.

    Only after stealing the revolver and ammunition from Washoe County did Mr. Guzman decide to enter the victims homes to obtain more valuable personal property, such as jewelry, phones and computers, and to kill the elderly occupants therein, according to an interview.

    Guzman took an iMac, an iWatch, a neckless and jewelry from Koontz home. It was an attempt to log on with the stolen iWatch that led investigators to Martinez Guzman.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  3. #23
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    New appeal to Nevada Supreme Court in four 2019 killings

    RENO, Nev. (AP) Lawyers for a 21-year-old Salvadoran immigrant accused of killing four northern Nevada residents last year are asking the state Supreme Court to again overturn a judges ruling allowing him to be tried in Reno for crimes that occurred in another county.

    Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzmans public defenders argue the Washoe County District Court lacks jurisdiction to try him for the two killings and burglaries hes accused of committing in rural Douglas County last year.

    The high court agreed with them, in part, and ordered Washoe District Judge Connie Steinheimer to revisit the matter in March. But she ruled again last month that prosecutors had sufficiently connected the crimes to try Martinez-Guzman in one location.

    Martinez-Guzman faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of the killing of an elderly Reno couple and two Gardnerville women in their homes during what authorities say was a 10-day rampage in two counties in January 2019.

    His lawyers said in their latest appeal to the Supreme Court that each of the Douglas County charges occurred solely in Douglas County and that each of the Washoe County charges occurred solely in Washoe County.

    They are temporally and spatially distinct; they do not constitute a continuing offense, the defense lawyers wrote in asking the high court to again order Steinheimer to invalidate the Washoe County grand jury indictment regarding the crimes outside the county.

    The trial originally was scheduled to begin in April but Steinheimer vacated the date and has scheduled a hearing Oct. 23 on a defense motion to suspend it indefinitely.

    The defense lawyers have said they need to go to Martinez-Guzmans home country of El Salvador - where travel currently is prohibited due to COVID-19 - to gather information to help determine if their client has an intellectual disability that would make it illegal to execute him.

    Federal officials have said Martinez-Guzman is in the U.S. illegally, but they dont know how or when he arrived in the U.S. The case has drawn the attention of President Donald Trump, who used it to bolster to bolster his argument for a border wall.

    Prosecutors have said Martinez-Guzman stole a revolver from Gerald and Sharon David in Reno Jan. 4, 2019. He fatally shot Constance Koontz on Jan. 9, killed Sophia Renken on Jan. 12 and robbed and killed the Davids on Jan. 15, authorities have said. The crimes are linked partly because the same gun was used in all of the killings, they added.

    Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Marilee Cate told the justices in November 2019 that the intent for the Douglas County killings was formed in Washoe County.

    The facts of this case are so intertwined that his possession of the firearm was an act requisite to consummation of the crimes in Douglas County, Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson said.

    Washoe County public defender John Arrascada and chief deputy public defender John Reese Petty said in the new appeal that the court in Reno lacks jurisdiction to try Martinez-Guzman for the crimes in Gardnerville because the activity in Washoe County is incidental or marginal and not essential to the Douglas County charges.

    There was no evidence presented to the grand jury that he specifically sought to obtain a revolver or that at the time he took the revolver (and other property) he planned to keep or even use it. The revolvers later use in Douglas County is not a jurisdictionally significant act for purposes of placing venue for the Douglas County charges in Washoe County, they wrote.

    The defense lawyers added: The completed act of taking property (including the revolver) in Washoe County should not be used to `bootstrap venue of the Douglas County charges into Washoe County court

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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