Retrial likely in Pomona murder case

POMONA — A retrial appears likely for a convicted murderer who stands to have his prison stay lengthened by 25 years if convicted of a sentencing enhancement for using a firearm.

A jury found Joel Martin guilty of second-degree murder last week for the shooting death last year in Pomona of Carlos Espinoza, who Martin reportedly shot because he was friends with people who killed Martin’s brother two months earlier.

Though jurors unanimously agreed that Martin, 24, was guilty of murder, only 10 of the 12 jurors believed he was the gunman in Espinoza’s death. Because of the deadlock, a judge declared a mistrial as to the firearm allegation.

Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 15 years to life. A firearm allegation in a murder case can carry a sentence of up to 25 years to life, which in Martin’s case would result in a total sentence of 40 years to life.

Martin’s prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Bjorn Dodd, said today that he’s prepared to again take Martin’s case to trial to prove the firearm allegation if there isn’t a plea agreement reached.

Martin’s defense attorney, Antonio Bestard, said a plea bargain is unlikely in the case. He predicted there would be a retrial.

“They want that additional 25 years to life,” Bestard said after a brief hearing today in Pomona Superior Court in which a Jan. 13 trial date was set.

Espinoza, 24, was shot six times on Feb. 4, 2009 as he sat at a bus stop at Mission Boulevard and Buena Vista Avenue.

Espinoza and other witnesses told police that the gunman pulled up next to Espinoza in a cargo van and opened fire.

Espinoza died about three hours after the shooting. Before he succumbed to his wounds, he told police Martin was the shooter.

According to trial testimony from Pomona police officers, Espinoza said he was friends with the people who had earlier killed Martin’s brother, Miguel Martin.

During Joel Martin’s trial, a prosecutor played a taped interview with detectives in which Martin confessed to killing Espinoza.

In the confession, Martin said he heard through a third party that Espinoza said his brother deserved to die.

Shooting location:

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