The California Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of a man convicted of murder for his role in the killing of a Long Beach resident whose body was found inside an SUV that had been set on fire in Rancho Palos Verdes more than six years ago.
Jose Angel Martinez of Compton was convicted in October 2017 of one count each of first-degree murder and arson in the death of Christopher Waters, 42.
The victim’s body was found in the flaming SUV at 30100 Miraleste Drive at 2:30 p.m. on April 23, 2013. His feet had been bound and a cord was wrapped around his neck.
Martinez, who was 18 at the time of the crime, was charged along with a 17-year-old boy whose case was eventually transferred to a juvenile court. The status of that teen’s case is not clear.
Martinez initially denied having anything to do with Waters’ death. When investigators told him they knew he and his teenage friend had been picked up by a taxi in San Pedro and dropped off at a Lakewood mall, the defendant said that he was with his friend — who owed Waters some money but didn’t have the money to pay him — and that the two had beaten up Waters and his friend put an extension cord around the victim’s neck, according to a Jan. 24 ruling by a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal that upheld his conviction.
At his trial, Martinez denied involvement in the attack and said he had only helped his friend to cover it up afterward, the justices noted. The defendant claimed that he had lied to the police because he panicked.
Martinez was sentenced in November 2017 to 28 years to life in state prison.
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