Entering week two of the Samuel “Joe” Joseph Martinez trial, prosecutor Paula Waldman called a total of five witnesses to the stand Tuesday. Martinez is standing trial on counts of torture and assault with force likely to cause great bodily harm, for the 2006 beating of a local transient woman named Laurel Riley. While defense attorney Joe Allen had few questions for the witnesses, much was covered in Judge Frank Ochoa’s courtroom on Tuesday. Witnesses on the stand included police officers, paramedics, and detectives who were on the scene back in July 2006, as well as crime scene investigators and criminalists who were involved in the case off-site.
Sgt. Marty Ensign, who has been with the Santa Barbara Police Department for more than 24 years, was first to take the stand. One of the first to arrive on the scene, Ensign stated that, surprisingly, there were no other reported assaults at the Louis Lowry Davis Center during 2006-2007, making this case rather rare. David Anduri, another officer and crime scene investigator with the SBPD, echoed this statement. He also testified that when he came upon the scene, he found the victim lying in a 4-5 foot puddle of blood.
Next to the stand was Johan Nilsson, who now is employed with the Carpinteria Fire Department, but was working as an assistant paramedic at the time of the incident. With his partner Justin Dunkin (who was not called to testify), Nilsson took the victim to the hospital that morning, saying he remembers her being unresponsive, but conscious. He also remarked that the call — and situation — were marked urgent; Nilsson and Dunkin got the victim to Cottage Hospital within 10 minutes of arriving on the scene.
After the on-scene officers testified, crime scene investigator Mike Ullemeyer and senior criminalist Dianne Burns were called to the stand. Ullemeyer was responsible for analyzing the bloody shoe prints found at the scene, and concluded that, of the eight prints found, the six with enough detail to be analyzed all matched. The shoe in question was found to be a Route 66 hiking boot from Payless, a style that was not worn by any of the detectives, officers, paramedics, or other witnesses at the scene. Since the shoes worn by Martinez at the time of the incident were not found, it remained undetermined whether or not the prints at the scene matched the shoes he was wearing.
Dianne Burns, employed by the California Department of Justice, was brought in to examine the biological evidence from the scene, namely the forensics of blood splatters and other bodily fluids. By analyzing the ellipses of blood spots found at the crime scene, Burns was able to use mathematical equations to reconstruct the angle from which blood left the victim, allowing her to know what height and possible position the victim was in while being hit. She concluded that there were three possible positions that the victim could have been in — kneeling, sitting, or doubled over — all of which would mean that Riley was struck while in a disabled state.
Last to testify was SBPD Det. Chad Hunt, the officer to find and question — and eventually arrest — Martinez a year later. While Hunt arrived at the scene over six hours after paramedics had taken the victim away, his main focus was not on the evidence at the scene, but on finding Riley’s attacker. Another officer told Hunt to check out Samuel Martinez as an alternate subject — after brother Benjamin Martinez was dismissed for lack of connecting evidence — and Hunt interviewed him in September, 2006, but got little information. Soon after, Martinez’s sister, Stephanie Mendoza, contacted Officer Hunt to tell him that her brother had voluntarily divulged details of the crime to her, just days prior. After arranging with the police, Mendoza proceeded with three different wired conversations with her brother, which were heard as evidence last week in court.
The jury began deliberations Thursday afternoon after hearing closing arguments earlier that day. Martinez himself did not testify.