Churchrock Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Second-Degree Murder Charge
ALBUQUERQUE—Kevin Martinez, 21, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Churchrock, N.M., pleaded guilty today to a second degree murder charge. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Martinez will be sentenced to 108 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Martinez was arrested on March 20, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with killing a 45-year-old Navajo man on March 5, 2014, in a location within the Navajo Indian Reservation. Martinez subsequently was indicted on April 9, 2014, and charged with second degree murder.
According to court filings, Martinez killed the victim in a secluded location outside of Gallup, N.M., on the evening of March 5, 2014. Martinez was arrested after officers learned that he was driving the victim’s vehicle after the victim had been reported missing. During a custodial interview, Martinez admitted killing the victim and led law enforcement officers to the area where he had concealed the victim’s body. According to autopsy results, the victim died as a result of multiple sharp force and blunt force trauma, including a large incised sharp force trauma to the neck that severed the victim’s jugular vein.
During today’s plea hearing, Martinez pled guilty to the indictment and admitted killing the victim on March 5, 2014. According to the plea agreement, Martinez became acquainted with the victim through an Internet website and met the victim in Gallup on March 5, 2014. Martinez and the victim then drove in the victim’s vehicle to a secluded area. There, Martinez became enraged and pushed the victim when the victim ridiculed him. The victim responded by retrieving a knife and threatened Martinez with it, but Martinez was able to take the knife from the victim. During a physical altercation that ensued, Martinez killed the victim by hitting him in the head with a large piece of wood and repeatedly stabbing him with the knife.
Martinez has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Gallup office of the FBI and the Crownpoint office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, with assistance from the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office and the New Mexico State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Y. Ramirez is prosecuting the case.