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NM state Sen. Richard Martinez set to be released from jail

Sen. Richard Martinez listens as crash victim Johnny Sisneros, left, speaks during Martinez's sentencing Tuesday in 1st District Court. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Ojo Caliente, listens as crash victim Johnny Sisneros speaks during Martinez’s sentencing hearing on Jan. 7 in Santa Fe. Martinez is set to be released from jail after serving a four-day sentence. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE — Longtime New Mexico state Sen. Richard Martinez was set to be released from Santa Fe County jail on Tuesday after serving a four-day sentence for aggravated drunken driving.

Martinez, a Democrat from Rio Arriba County, checked himself into jail on Friday afternoon, according to county jail records.

He was sentenced earlier this month to five days in jail and 85 days of probation after being convicted of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving.

Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Ojo Caliente

Those charges stemmed from a June 2019 incident in which Martinez plowed into another vehicle that had stopped at a red light in Española, injuring both occupants of the other vehicle.

However, a state judge gave Martinez credit for one day in jail for time served after his arrest, meaning he only faced a four-day jail sentence.

Martinez, who has served in the Senate since 2001, tearfully apologized for his actions before being sentenced, while also saying he has been sober for six months and is seeking help for a drinking problem.

After being convicted, Martinez resigned from his post as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. But he has ignored calls to also resign from the Legislature and has indicated he plans to run for reelection this year to his Senate District 5 seat.

Martinez’s sentence drew criticism from some New Mexicans for being too lenient, as Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office had asked District Court Judge Francis Mathew to impose the maximum 180 days in jail under the two charges he was convicted of.

However, some of Martinez’s relatives had expressed concern about Martinez’s well-being in jail, and his attorney told the judge during the sentencing hearing that Martinez has medical conditions that could be difficult for corrections officers to adequately handle.

The 30-day legislative session starts next week.


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