CONEJOS —Joshua Martinez, 26, of Manassa was sentenced to 15 years in prison, closing out 17 separate cases of burglary and showing frustrated citizens that something can be done.
Martinez appeared in Conejos District Court Friday afternoon, Oct. 26, to hear arguments by both prosecution and defense in support of a sentence that had already been agreed upon in an earlier plea agreement. Martinez admitted committing six burglaries, with the remaining 11 still under investigation to determine restitution.
Martinez’s bond was set at $130,000 for all three pending cases. He has been remanded to the state Department of Corrections (DOC) to serve 15 years behind bars.
There was no demand for leniency and Deputy 12th Judicial District Attorney Ashley McCuaig pointed out that the 17 cases involved more than 40 victims, each of whom felt upset and violated.
“These victims lost not only possessions, but trust, the feeling of being safe at home.”
While the loss was various items, the thefts did violate the persons of those suffering the losses, McCuaig told 12th Judicial District Judge Martin Gonzales, who levied the DOC sentence.
Martinez and another individual committed the crimes over 12 months’ time, McCuaig told the judge. Martinez was arrested Nov. 17, 2017 on burglary warrants and was held in lieu of $130,000 bond since that time.
Martinez is a young man, “a drug addict who made some very poor choices,” McCuaig said. Restitution is still undetermined and Martinez’s children will grow up without a father.
“He entered homes without permission and took items he didn’t work for or earn.”
A female victim told the judge that she loved the community in the past and could keep her doors unlocked. That sense of security died at Martinez’s hands.
Speaking about his loss, Waldo Madrid, son of late Sheriff Toby Madrid, told the judge his home was burglarized Oct. 17, 2017 and several firearms were taken, including a .38 special revolver that his father carried when he was on duty, as well as a tactical shotgun.
Speaking of his dad’s duty weapon, Madrid had tears in his eyes. Monetary restitution would never lessen that loss.
Public Defender James Waldo told the judge there were two sorts of criminal offenses, one was when someone committed a crime out of malice or revenge and the other was when someone went into a home and took items with no regard for what they were worth.
Martinez took things that would support a drug addiction, he told the court.
“Heroin as an addiction is so powerful even I don’t understand it,” Waldo said.
“In a perfect world, the victims could be made whole, but this can’t happen here.”
Martinez took responsibility for six of the burglaries and wants to own up to what he has done, Waldo said. “The fact that he was driven by heroin is not an excuse.”
While the plea agreement stated 18 years in prison, Waldo asked for 15. “Mr. Martinez will serve that time and hopefully come back a different man.”
Judge Gonzales looked directly at Martinez and said, “What I can say to you is probably meaningless.”
“Even in the throes of addiction, you committed a crime.”
The judge pointed out that Martinez is part of the Conejos County community with roots running deep.
“I’m hoping the sentence you received today sends a message. This community has suffered.”
Regarding the case, McCuaig said he, District Attorney Investigator Harry Alejo, sheriff’s deputies and a co-conspirator spent “extreme overtime hours” to resolve many of the home invasion crimes, leading to Martinez’s arrest and charging.
He said Martinez stole things and took them to his heroin supplier, trading them for more drugs, then stealing more when it was time for another “fix.”
Recalling his presence at a town hall meeting in Conejos County during November of last year, McCuaig was promised by the Board of County Commissioners that the District Attorney would receive more funding.
It didn’t happen, even after the 17 burglary cases were solved, McCuaig said.
Commissioner John Sandoval made the promise in front of a crowd estimated at 200 persons, McCuaig said. “Now, I’m offended by it.”
He and wife Ashley Fetyko, the District Attorney’s chief trial deputy, will be leaving the 12th Judicial District for the metro area due to the fact that they cannot live and support a planned family on what they are being paid, especially without benefits. They are taking with them close to 30 years of experience.
The next most senior prosecutor in the DA’s office has 13 months of experience, McCuaig said.
Restitution is still being determined and persons with information are asked to call the sheriff’s office or Victoria Chavez at the office of the District Attorney.