A Longmont man convicted on two counts of assault in a domestic violence case was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday.
Christopher Martinez, 45, was convicted on second-degree assault – strangulation and second-degree assault with a deadly weapon following a week-long trial in September. He was also found guilty of violation of a criminal protection order, two counts of third-degree assault, criminal mischief and obstruction of telephone service.
On Wednesday, Boulder District Judge Andrew Hartman sentenced Martinez to 12 years on both of the assault counts to be served concurrently, followed by three years of mandatory parole. He gave Martinez 354 days of time served in jail for the remaining counts.
“Domestic violence cannot be tolerated in our society,” Hartman said. “The threat and the impact of domestic violence on domestic partners constitutes a vast majority of violent crimes that people in our community face, and the assault against a loved one is particularly egregious and must be deterred.”
The jury found Martinez not guilty of attempted second-degree murder and attempted first-degree assault causing injury with a deadly weapon at trial, but Boulder Deputy District Attorney Anne Kelly said that was largely due to the victim refusing to testify.
Prosecutors have filed a separate witness tampering case against Martinez for what they claim were his successful efforts to manipulate the victim into not testifying at trial.
“The defendant in this case benefited generously from the fact that the people were unable to produce (the victim) for trial,” Kelly said.
The victim was also not at Wednesday’s hearing. But while prosecutors at trial could not present the victim’s statements to police immediately following the assault, they were able to do so at sentencing.
“The words that ring in my head when I think of (the victim) are, ‘Oh hell, I’m going to to die,’” Longmont police Officer Ryan Douglas said about his interview with the victim at the hospital. “She thought she was going to die.”
Douglas said the victim described Martinez punching her and putting her in a chokehold until she managed to reach back and hit him in the face. Douglas said Martinez then kicked the victim before he left.
“This was far and above everything that I’ve ever investigated as far as a domestic has gone,” Douglas said.
While the presumptive sentencing range was two to eight years, Kelly argued Martinez’s criminal history and the facts of the case allowed Hartman to sentence Martinez to the aggravated range of five to 16 years, and asked for the maximum sentence.
“This is the only appropriate sentence to reflect the aggravated facts of this case, the aggravated criminal history of the defendant, the defendant’s complete lack of accountability, and his delusions with respect to guilt in this case,” Kelly said.
But Martinez’s defense attorney Kathryn Herold said the case did not meet the criteria for an aggravated sentence, and asked Hartman for eight years in prison, the maximum under a presumptive sentencing range and not the aggravated range.
“In looking at the totality of the circumstances, an eight-year sentence punishes him, keeps the community safe, sends a message to other individuals convicted of these crimes, and will help rehabilitate him sooner,” Herold said.
Herold also accused Kelly of asking for a sentence and presenting testimony at sentencing as if Martinez had been convicted of attempted murder and was already guilty of witness tampering.
“The jury found him not guilty of attempted murder,” Herold said. “That was their decision.”
Martinez chose not to speak at the hearing at the advice of Herold because he plans on appealing his case. But Martinez’s son spoke about how his father has “changed” and is “getting a lot better,” since the arrest, something Herold said she also saw.
“I was aware of his criminal history, I was aware of the nature of the accusations against him, and I had made some … thoughts about Mr. Martinez that he quickly changed my mind about,” Herold said.
Hartman said he did “appreciate the attempt the defendant has made to rehabilitate” as well as his family’s support, but ultimately he found the case did meet the criteria to be considered aggravated in imposing the sentence.
“A severe sentence is required to meet the needs of Colorado law,” Hartman said.
Hartman earlier in the hearing also denied a defense motion to dismiss one of the second-degree assault charges after defense asserted both second-degree assault counts were redundant. Hartman did note for the purposes of any appeal he felt both counts were allowed under the law, but also noted since the sentences for both were being merged it was largely a “moot point” for the purposes of Wednesday’s hearing.
Martinez, who was already in custody at the Boulder County Jail, was remanded for transportation to the Colorado Department of Corrections. He does, however, still have a pending arraignment hearing on his witness tampering case on Feb. 7.