POMONA — A retrial began this week for a 24-year-old man accused of shooting a man to death to avenge his brother’s killing.
At his first trial, held in December, Joel Martin was convicted of second-degree murder for the Feb. 4, 2009 shooting death of Carlos Espinoza.
Espinoza, 22, was shot six times while waiting at a bus stop at Mission Boulevard and Buena Vista Avenue in Pomona.
While jurors in the December trial unanimously agreed that Martin was guilty of murder, they deadlocked on the issue of whether he used a firearm in the course of Espinoza’s slaying.
Prosecutors opted to again take Martin’s case to trial because the gun allegations, if found true, could lengthen Martin’s prison stay by 25 years. Second-degree murder carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life.
Prosecutors allege that Martin shot Espinoza because he believed Espinoza was friends with the men who killed his brother, Miguel Martin, about two months earlier.
According to testimony in December from a woman who was with Espinoza during the shooting, a Chevy Astro Van pulled up alongside the bus stop at about 1:30 p.m.
A man in the passenger seat of the van briefly exchanged words with Espinoza before opening fire with a handgun, the woman said.
Espinoza was shot twice in the chest, once in the back, once in the leg, and once in each arm.
Before he lost consciousness, Espinoza told authorities that his killer was a man he identified by the nickname “Guero,” whose brother had recently been killed.
Joel Martin later admitted to police that “Guero” was his nickname.
Detective Mark McCann testified today in Pomona Superior Court that based on Espinoza’s statements, Joel Martin was the primary suspect in the killing.
But after Espinoza’s death, Martin fled Pomona. His family said he moved to Mexico to care for his grandmother, McCann testified.
In March 2010, McCann learned that Martin’s brother was living in Portales, N.M. The detective testified that he had a hunch Martin might also be living there.
When McCann asked federal authorities to search for Martin, his hunch was confirmed. Martin was arrested in New Mexico and extradited to California in early April 2010.
Deputy District Attorney Bjorn Dodd said he expects to rest his case against Martin on Monday, the next day the trial is in session.