Appeals Court Upholds Convictions and Denies New Trial to Lawrence Man
The Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld the 2008 conviction of Juan Martinez on multiple firearms charges and the application of an enhanced sentencing based on prior violent offenses in a decision released today.
Martinez, 26, of Lawrence, was sentenced to serve ten years to ten years and one day after being found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm and carrying a loaded firearm without a license on April 22, 2008 by Judge Howard Whitehead. He was given the 10 year minimum mandatory sentence based upon an armed career criminal sentence enhancement which allows the Commonwealth to seek a harsher sentence when a defendant has prior convictions for drug crimes or crimes of violence.
On April 29, 2007, around 2:00 a.m., Lawrence Police received a 911 call from a concerned citizen reporting gun shots, being fired by Martinez, who was hiding the gun under a towel. When police arrived, they saw Martinez on a porch with a revolver in his hand and a towel around this neck. Martinez threw the revolver over a fence, but police retrieved it and found two live rounds and two spent shells in it.
On appeal, Martinez argued, among other things, that his motion to suppress the 911 call was wrongly denied and questioned the reliability of the citizen caller. However, the Appeals Court wrote, “we agree with the motion judge that the content of the call and the demeanor of the caller indicate that he was a firsthand observer of [the defendant] shooting a gun.” Further, they ruled that the citizen caller’s 911 report was reliable since description of the “number, gender and location of the individuals at the scene, the clothing worn by the defendant, and the distinctive fact that the gun was hidden inside a towel,” were corroborated by the responding police officers.
Martinez was represented by Attorney Patrick Shanley in his original trial and Attorney Jon Maddox on appeal. He has four years remaining on his sentence.
Essex Assistant District Attorney Michael Sheehan prosecuted the case. Essex Assistant District Attorney Philip Mallard represented the Commonwealth before the Appeals Court.