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Contract hitman confesses to killing 40 people

Alleged Hitman Charged With Murder Confesses To 40 Killings

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A suspected contract killer charged in Central California with killing nine people confessed to investigators that he carried out up to 40 slayings in a career spanning decades, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Errek Jett, the district attorney in Lawrence County, Ala., said that Jose Manuel Martinez, 51, told investigators he carried out the crimes working as an enforcer for a drug cartel. Jett said they believe Martinez because of the details he gave investigators.

Martinez was arrested last year shortly after crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona and sent to Alabama, where he awaits trial on one murder charge. Once word got out, a steady stream of investigators from across the country came to question Martinez, Jett said.

Defense attorney Thomas Turner, who represents Martinez in that lone case, said his client is eager to start a June trial in Alabama, so he can return to California. Turner said Martinez maintains his innocence to the charge there and doesn't seem to be a hardened killer.

"I've found him to be polite and a likable individual," Turner said. "He has a good personality as far as talking with him."

Prosecutors in California say otherwise.

Martinez targeted victims in Tulare, Kern and Santa Barbara counties between 1980 and 2011, said Tulare County Assistant District Attorney Anthony Fultz, who filed charges Tuesday.

Investigators have released details of their case, saying six of the victims were killed in Tulare County, two in Kern and one in Santa Barbara. They ranged in age from 22 to 56, investigators said.

One man was shot dead in 1980 driving to work in the morning, while two men were shot in 1982 working on a ranch, one surviving. The same year, another man went missing before being found two days later by ranchers shot and stabbed to death. Yet another was found in 2000 shot to death in bed with his four children at home.

In addition to the nine murder counts, Martinez was charged in California with one count of attempted murder and the special circumstances of committing multiple murders, lying in wait and kidnapping. Four murder charges include the allegation he committed the crime for financial gain, the criminal complaint says.

The California charges would make Martinez eligible for a death sentence, if he is convicted.

Martinez has lived on and off in Richgrove, a small farming community in Central California about 40 miles north of Bakersfield. He's being held in Alabama, awaiting trial in a 2013 slaying, and Fultz said he's also wanted in Florida on suspicion of two killings there in 2006.

Fultz declined to comment on any connection Martinez may have with drug cartels, saying he did not want to damage the case at this early stage. Fultz said that too will remain under investigation.

Fultz said he is confident Martinez committed at least the nine killings he's charged with, but he has heard higher figures from across the nation.

"We're actually not sure what the full scope is," Fultz said. "It will depend upon what the investigation shows."

Martinez has spent brief stints in state prison following a 2007 conviction on theft and drug charges, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Acting Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said his deputies came in contact with Martinez while investigating a rash of home-invasion robberies in late 2012 and early 2013.

Martinez was at a home they searched and was questioned by Sgt. Christal Derington, but not considered a suspect.

From his cell in Alabama, Martinez requested a meeting with Derington, who flew across country three times, because Martinez said "he wanted to talk to her," Boudreaux told The Fresno Bee. The cases in California came together, he said.

"As a result of Detective Derington's initial investigations and interviews, we began working on new leads," Boudreaux said. "While this case has been filed, there is plenty of work to be done."

Meanwhile, Martinez's mother told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that she was completely overwhelmed by the news of her son's alleged crimes.

"This is hard for me - really hard," Loreta Fernandez said in Spanish. "I'm still shaking. I'm not in a condition to deal with this."

Fernandez told the paper that the last time she spoke with her son was in June, when he was detained while crossing the Mexican border because there was a warrant for his arrest in Alabama.

She said she didn't believe he committed the murders.

"All I can say is God bless him and that not everything he's saying is true," Fernandez said.


Chandler reported from Montgomery, Ala.

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Pumpkinpie April 10 2014 at 10:29 AM

Help rid the world of SCUMS, very valuable.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
eseferian April 10 2014 at 12:02 PM

Death Sentence is too light for this man.I wish he could be burnt alive at the stake
to keep any prospetive initators in line,

Flag Reply +6 rate up
aliosh April 10 2014 at 12:39 PM

Wake up mom.....your son has confessed!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
JERRY V April 10 2014 at 12:41 PM

I can only hope our representatives will take heed and get this problem of illegals entering our country. Fix the damn Borders, put up fences that work, more guards, and hefty penalties for those who commit crimes here illegally. This guy according to his confessions worked for the drug cartels as an enforcer...i assume he killed off other involved in the Drug business, that is a good thing for the USA. If he is telling the truth his future in our present prisons is bleek as it is filled with drug cartel gang members......he is screwed one way or the other.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
kcarthey JERRY V April 10 2014 at 1:04 PM

Seems to me he was doing what our police can't...getting rid of the drug trash already in our country, citizen or not.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Bob kcarthey April 10 2014 at 1:39 PM

He wasn't getting rid of the drug trash,......he was getting rid of the competition , so the drug trash he was working for could sell more drugs in the U.S. No matter how you slice it, he is nothing more than a dirtbag killer.!!!

Flag +5 rate up
nrgaines88 April 10 2014 at 1:02 PM

Mothers always say "He was a goood boy"' Ralph Gaines.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Larry April 10 2014 at 1:04 PM

lots of disturbing posts here…..who hires these folks? (illegals) why do you think they hire them? who are " our representatives" did you pay their campaigns enough that they might care about what you are concerned with,or are they more concerned with that corporate size cash flow?

money talks, bullshit pounds on a keyboard………………its all an illusion

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
shranne Larry April 10 2014 at 1:32 PM

AHH now you know the Ranchers/Farmers of the San Joaquin Valley the labor is cheap and guys like him they hire "Contract" Labor from REAL cheap and he does the enforcing for them....It is a racket, California politicians know it ....The Pelosi's are in the grape growing business as well as lodging ....Where do you think they get all those cute little Hispanic maids from ....They are Illegals not JUST from Mexico but many Central American countries ....

Flag Reply +9 rate up
Georgia A McD April 10 2014 at 1:25 PM

I'm sure those murdered were really impressed that their killer was a gentleman with a nice personality.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
ycplum Georgia A McD April 10 2014 at 1:38 PM

It is a trait that allows him to get close to the target and/or gather information about a target.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
sindfetish Georgia A McD April 10 2014 at 1:45 PM

They most likely did not get know him because of the job he does.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
jas April 10 2014 at 1:31 PM

Interesting . . .

Started killing mostly druggies at age 20. Why stop him now? Say he lives to national average of 75, he could waste another 31.

Alabama DA will want to keep him for his mantle. In California, DA Derington … she'll want him for her mantle too, whoop-de-do.

Funny, assume he lives to say, age 71. California death row is 20 years, before any execution, if any, can occur. Cost is about $137,000 a year, comes to about $2,740,000, for a 20 year stint for this Martinez bug, should he live to age 71.

Is it really that important, to house this turd, in your house California? Let Alabama house him, they've got him, besides, seems Alabama is top of the heap for executions. Though all is on hold for a now, if only for a bit. Alabama even leads Texas in executions, on a per captita basis.

All of this sounds way upside down for me. We have poor people living on substandard incomes, and they work! Why must tax payers provide these a**holes with great healthcare, nice living conditions (far better than all homeless, all low income people), and very good food, prepared for them.

Yes, they have a rigorous schedule, oh my. Still, spending $137,000 on these low life's is absurd. Spend maybe $37,000 on them, and try to use the other $100,000 on those who need it. Hopefully, most of the $100,000 would not be sucked up by bureaucrats.

Please don't tell me about the cost of the house, guards, healthcare, food, et cetera, know all that good stuff. Costs way to damn much, regardless . . .

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
jay love jas April 10 2014 at 7:32 PM

makes sense to me but I am afraid the most Liberal California supreme court and the very liberal 9th circuit court of appeals have not agreed with your very logical way of thinking for some 40 years now? CA. has over 500 of these same type wackos sitting around on death row that will never, ever be carried out, its a joke really? death penalty in name only, basically they die of old age while playing checkers and eating well in CA? imagine if you were the relative of a murder victim there in Cali, what a slap in the face for those people? they sit in court for years wanting to get justice for their loved ones and then end up sitting until they die themselves waiting for the governor to pull the switch? really pathetic!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
prnyl April 10 2014 at 1:49 PM

More drugs and illegals hiding behind all the freebies that exist in this country!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
red April 10 2014 at 1:54 PM


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