Crime & Justice

Gang member convicted of assault, robbery in home invasion

Santa Ana gang member Carlos Martinez, 26, was convicted late yesterday in a home invasion robbery. Charges included false imprisonment by violence, assault, and robbery. He faces a maximum sentence of two life terms, with sentencing scheduled for Dec. 18.

According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, at approximately 5:45 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2007, Martinez and an unidentified accomplice entered a Santa Ana home using a key that one of them had seen a 78-year-old grandmother hide under the front door mat a few days earlier. Wearing ski masks and holding firearms, Martinez and his accomplice entered the kitchen and attacked the 78-year-old and her 54-year-old daughter.

Martinez and his accomplice duct taped the two victims to chairs, binding their wrists, ankles, bodies, and faces. One of the defendants went into the bathroom, where a 17-year old, daughter/granddaughter of the other two victims, was showering. He ordered her to get out of the shower and forced her into the kitchen.

The three women screamed as Martinez and his accomplice repeatedly hit the grandmother and mother in the face with their weapons, demanding cash and jewelry. Martinez and his accomplice stole $64 in cash and $150 in jewelry before fleeing the scene on foot. A neighbor called 911 after being awoken by the screaming.

The victims were transported to the hospital for treatment. The 78-year-old woman was hospitalized for several days and continues to suffer from chronic headaches and vision problems from the attack.

Evidence, including DNA, was collected from the crime scene. In April 2008, Martinez was convicted in an unrelated gang case involving a stolen vehicle and was sentenced to four years in state prison. He submitted his DNA as a result of the conviction, and in June 2008, the DNA from the two incidents was matched. Martinez was transported from state prison to Orange County to face charges. Martinez also has a prior strike from 2000 for robbery.

During the trial, the 54-year-old woman testified that she was unable to sleep and was traumatized for months after the attack. When shown a crime scene photograph of herself with duct tape in her hair and a bloody, swollen lip for the first time, she broke down in tears on the stand.