Enrique Martinez listens to the proceedings in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday as a motion is made to vacate his guilty plea. Martinez says he misunderstood the details of his plea deal, believing he was going to jail for only 15 years, instead of the possibility of life behind bars he faces now.
Enrique Martinez admitted Oct. 2 to shooting and killing a man as he walked into his house, but he claimed later that he was "confused and shocked" to learn that he would be sentenced to life in prison for the murder.
In an affidavit offered as evidence during a hearing yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Martinez said he had concerns about entering a guilty plea to the murder but did not address them when he should have to avoid making anyone "mad." He now wants to withdraw that plea and take the case to a jury trial.
"When I entered the guilty plea to murder I thought that I would be released after 15 years of incarceration…," he wrote in the affidavit. "It was only after the plea hearing on the next day when I realized that I was going to receive a life sentence and not be guaranteed a release from prison after fifteen years."
Judge Ruth Ann Franks set a Wednesday court date to issue her ruling.
Martinez, 18, of 414 Courtland Ave. pleaded guilty to murder for the May 31 shooting death of David Taylor, Sr. Mr. Taylor, 50, was shot outside his South Avenue home and died five hours later at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.
Authorities said the incident began with a recent fight between Mr. Taylor's son, David, Jr., and his son's ex-girlfriend that prompted Martinez and four women to show up at the Taylors' house.
The elder Mr. Taylor opened the door and stepped outside, where he got into a quarrel with the women. He was shot in the back as he tried to retreat to his house.
As part of the negotiated plea, a gun specification was to be dismissed, which meant that he would be first eligible for parole in 15 years instead of 18 years.
Attorney John Thebes, who did not represent Martinez during the plea, filed a motion to withdraw the guilty plea on Tuesday. The motion said Martinez was a "slow learner" who lacked "any significant and meaningful support structure in his life." He added that Martinez thought he would be sentenced to a definite period of 15 years if he pleaded guilty.
"The advice of counsel and the information dispensed by the trial court at the plea hearing was not intelligently understood by the defendant," the motion said.
As part of the hearing, Martinez's former attorney, Adrian Cimerman, testified about his interactions with Martinez and the decision to enter a plea. Mr. Cimerman, whose attorney-client privilege requirement was waived because of the motion, testified that Martinez never gave him reason to doubt he understood what was happening.
"The benefit was pretty obvious because he would go to the parole board three years earlier. I would have liked to have gotten more, but it wasn't there. Three years is three years. That's substantial," he said of the plea. "He understood what we were dealing with."
Judge Franks said if she grants the request to withdraw the plea, Martinez would go to trial Wednesday. If she denies the request, she plans to proceed to sentencing, she said.