Samuel “Joe” Joseph Martinez
Paul Wellman

After seven days in the courtroom and two in deliberation, a Santa Barbara jury on Friday found Samuel “Joe” Joseph Martinez guilty of torture and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, which could send him to prison for the rest of his life. He was convicted of brutally beating of a homeless woman named Laurel Riley over the course of an evening in July 2006.

On Thursday, prosecutor Paula Waldman gave her closing statement, recapping a number of the 70 pieces of evidence brought into trial. This review included tape recordings from Martinez’s interviews at police headquarters, as well as wired conversations with the defendant and his brother, Benjamin Martinez, that were provided through the cooperation of Martinez’s sister, Stephanie Mendoza.

In one such recording, from an interview between Martinez and Detective Chad Hunt, Martinez summed up his feelings about what prompted the attack with the following: “You don’t know when you’re going to create a monster.”

Defense attorney Joe Allen also gave his closing statement, which offered an alternative scenario to what Waldman had argued. Discussing the issue of timing — the beating was said to have happened around midnight and the victim was discovered around 6:30 a.m. the next morning — Allen suggested his client was not the only person to come in physical contact with the victim during those six hours. There could have been a different attacker, he said.

Details from the testimony of Joann Gomez, Martinez’s ex-wife, were also recounted. Married for over 35 years, Gomez vividly remembered the years of torment she spent while married to Martinez. When asked if she recalled significant details of specific instances, Gomez broke down in tears, saying she “didn’t want to remember.”

Martinez will be sentenced on July 25.


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