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S.F. man pleads guilty in brother’s death

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SANTA FE — A plea agreement has been reached in the murder case against a Santa Fe man who admitted to killing his brother and dumping his body along a trail across from Torreon Park in March 2012.

Felix Martinez, 43, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a third-degree felony, and tampering with evidence, a fourth degree felony, during a hearing in Santa Fe district court on Monday.

Sentencing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday in state District Judge Stephen Pfeffer’s courtroom.

Martinez faces up to seven years in prison for shooting and killing his brother David Martinez, who was 53 at the time.

Attorneys on both sides said the plea agreement was the best resolution to the case.

“It’s always a risk any time you put a case on before 12 jurors who are charged with deciding a case beyond reasonable doubt,” said prosecutor Tim Williams.

“It was one of those cases that very well could have gone to trial,” said defense attorney Joseph Campbell. “But at the end of the day, this is the right thing to do.”

Campbell mentioned during the hearing that this is unique in that the victim and assailant are from the same family. Campbell asked that the sentencing be held at a later date to allow Martinez family members who were not present Monday to address the court, and Pfeffer agreed to the request.

The two brothers and Sam Leyba, 44, were suspects in the death of 34-year-old digital design artist Ethaan Boyer, who was killed by a gunshot after apparently interrupting a burglary at his West Alameda Street home three weeks before David Martinez was killed.

Police later pinned Boyer’s murder on David Martinez, whose DNA and sunglasses lens were found at the scene.

Leyba entered into a plea agreement in May, which will keep him incarcerated until November. He was sentenced to six years, 3 1/2 of which were suspended, and got credit for the 14 months he spent in jail while his charges were pending.

Leyba, who at times shared his living quarters with David Martinez, pleaded guilty to three felony charges of receiving stolen property, one petty misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property and one felony charge of tampering with evidence.

One of the stolen property charges is for jewelry taken from the home of Boyer and his wife.

According to police reports, Leyba and the Martinez brothers were drinking alcohol at Leyba’s home on Ephriam Street the night David Martinez was killed. An argument ensued between the two brothers and, according to Felix Martinez, he reached for a gun and shot his brother in the chest after David Martinez made a move for the same gun. Police said that gun was the same weapon used to kill Boyer.

Under cover of darkness, Leyba and Felix Martinez then hauled David Martinez’s body a few blocks away by dolly and dumped it in a cactus bed alongside a walking trail. A passerby discovered the body the next morning.

The trial for Felix Martinez was scheduled for August.

Earlier on Monday, a hearing on Felix Martinez violating his conditions of release was postponed.

Campbell said a device late last month detected alcohol in his system. Campbell said he was confident that issue would become moot, as at least three other such devices had been found to be defective that same day.

That matter also will be heard during Thursday’s hearing.

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