State v. Martinez

Decision Date25 February 2021
Docket NumberNo. S-1-SC-37378,S-1-SC-37378
Citation483 P.3d 590
Parties STATE of New Mexico, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Lorenzo MARTINEZ, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtNew Mexico Supreme Court

Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General, Meryl E. Francolini, Assistant Attorney, General Santa Fe, NM, for Appellee

Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender, Allison H. Jaramillo, Assistant Appellate Defender, Santa Fe, NM, for Appellant

THOMSON, Justice.

{1} Defendant Lorenzo Martinez asks this Court to reverse his convictions for first-degree murder and third-degree criminal sexual penetration (CSP) of the victim (Victim) after she died. NMSA 1978, § 30-2-1(A)(1) (1994) ; NMSA 1978, § 30-9-11(A) (2009). Defendant challenges his convictions on multiple grounds, most of which are controlled by precedent. However, we review one argument as a matter of first impression. Defendant's challenge to his CSP conviction requires us to determine whether a decedent constitutes a "person" as that term is defined and used in Section 30-9-11(A). Based on the following reasoning, we determine that Victim constitutes a person under the unique circumstances of CSP in this case, and we hereby affirm Defendant's convictions.

I. BACKGROUND

{2} At approximately 3:00 p.m. on February 13, 2017, Victim came over to Defendant's house, and they began to drink. Defendant had been acquainted with Victim for one year. Victim had been "bugging" Defendant for a "week and a half," and Defendant tried to avoid her that day. Defendant stated that he drank three beers and that Victim became intoxicated after consuming several shots and began to yell and get "out of control." Defendant attempted to quiet her due to concerns about violating his probation. Frustrated, Defendant went to the bathroom to shave, telling Victim to "shut up" as she continued to raise her voice.

{3} After returning to the bathroom at approximately 6:00 p.m., Defendant reported that he "just ... snapped." Defendant left the bathroom, retrieved a knife from the kitchen where Victim was seated on a chair, and said, "You know what girl? I've got a present for you." Victim responded, "What's that?" Defendant then stabbed her multiple times in the neck.

{4} After killing Victim, Defendant went to his neighbor's house and calmly told her that there was a dead body in his house and that he killed Victim because "she was "irritating the shit out of him." According to Defendant, at approximately 7:00 p.m. he then moved her body to his bedroom, undressed her, and had sexual intercourse with her twice. He reported that he did not ejaculate. It is undisputed that Victim was deceased at the time of penetration. Defendant also admitted that he beat Victim in the face and stomach after moving her body to the bedroom.

{5} After the murder and sexual penetration, Defendant called a mental health resources hotline to report the homicide. He also called the police and gave them a detailed statement of the events that took place. Defendant told police that he killed this "fucking, stupid-ass bitch who was annoying" him and that her body was lying on his bed. Over a recording, Defendant can be heard saying, "she just pissed me off and I killed her."

{6} When the police came, they found Victim on Defendant's bed, naked from the waist down with breasts partially exposed. The police also found a pentagram on the wall that Defendant said he drew with Victim's blood. During the investigation, Defendant shared with police that he idolized serial killers and had wanted to kill someone for a long time but had not acted on previous homicidal ideations. He also stated that he would kill again if given the chance. Defendant further expressed how much he enjoyed killing Victim, describing the feeling as "pure joy."

{7} The autopsy revealed that Victim suffered from one stab wound on the left side of her neck and at least eight stab wounds on the right side. Vaginal and anal swabs taken from the deceased Victim revealed no male DNA. Defendant was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree CSP, and third- or fourth-degree tampering with evidence.

{8} At trial, both sides called mental health experts to testify to Defendant's sanity. Defendant was diagnosed with the psychotic disorder

of schizophrenia. This disorder is longstanding, and Defendant has experienced symptoms since he was nineteen years old. For much of his life, Defendant was often admitted to the hospital because he reported hearing voices that told him to harm himself or others, and he often experienced "command hallucinations" that ordered him to take his own life or the life of another person.

{9} Defendant's expert concluded that Defendant was insane at the time he killed Victim and that he acted in response to a command hallucination. He further testified that the circumstances on the day of Victim's murder differed from Defendant's previous command hallucinations

due to the chaos and stress he experienced, explaining that schizophrenics are sensitive to environmental stimuli. The State's expert agreed that Defendant suffered from schizophrenia. However, he testified that Defendant demonstrated an ability to stop himself from acting on command hallucinations in the past and thus could have stopped himself from stabbing Victim.

{10} The jury ultimately found Defendant to be sane and convicted him of first-degree murder and third-degree CSP. The district court sentenced him to life in prison. He now asserts his right to directly appeal both of his convictions pursuant to Rule 12-102(A)(1) NMRA (directing that appeals from the district courts in which a sentence of life imprisonment is imposed are taken to the Supreme Court).

II. DISCUSSION

{11} Defendant challenges his CSP conviction on four grounds: (1) most significantly, Victim was dead before the alleged CSP, and thus he could not have violated Section 30-9-11 ; (2) the district court erred by instructing the jury that it could convict even if Victim was deceased at the time of penetration; (3) his punishment for both CSP and first-degree murder violates double jeopardy; and (4) there was insufficient evidence of CSP because there was no physical evidence that corroborated his confession. Defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence that supports his first-degree murder conviction. He asserts that the State presented insufficient evidence of deliberation and also failed to prove that he was sane, or capable of controlling himself, when he killed Victim and when he later sexually penetrated her body. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm both of Defendant's convictions.

A. CSP Conviction

{12} Defendant presents four challenges to his conviction for third-degree CSP. We take each in turn.

1. Legal Sufficiency

{13} Concerning whether the crime of CSP requires the victim to be alive at the time of penetration, the statute provides, "Criminal sexual penetration is the unlawful and intentional causing of a person to engage in sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal intercourse or the causing of penetration, to any extent and with any object, of the genital or anal openings of another, whether or not there is any emission." Section 30-9-11(A) (emphasis added). It further provides that third-degree CSP is "all criminal sexual penetration perpetrated through the use of force or coercion not otherwise specified in this section." Section 30-9-11(F). Defendant argues that the Legislature's use of the term "person" in the statute requires that the victim be alive at the time of penetration. Thus, Defendant contends, the crime of CSP is a legal impossibility in this case because Victim was no longer alive.

{14} In resolving matters such as this, we review de novo questions of statutory interpretation. State v. Almanzar , 2014-NMSC-001, ¶ 9, 316 P.3d 183. New Mexico's principles of statutory construction instruct that "[t]he text of a statute or rule is the primary, essential source of its meaning." NMSA 1978, § 12-2A-19 (1997). However, "[i]n addition to looking at the statutory language, we also consider the history and background of the statute," and "[t]he plain meaning rule must yield when equity, legislative history, or other sources demonstrate that applying the plain meaning would result in a construction contrary to the spirit of the statute." GandyDancer, LLC v. Rock House CGM, LLC , 2019-NMSC-021, ¶¶ 13-14, 453 P.3d 434 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting State v. Smith , 2004-NMSC-032, ¶¶ 9-10, 136 N.M. 372, 98 P.3d 1022 ).

{15} The parties apply the test articulated in State v. Montoya , 2017-NMCA-033, 392 P.3d 223, in support of their respective answers to the question presented. In Montoya , the defendant robbed and killed the victim, left the scene, and then returned hours later to empty the victim's pockets and set fire to the victim's home with the body inside. Id. ¶ 2. The Court of Appeals upheld a conviction for the second robbery of the dead body, because "the second robbery and the subsequent arson were ‘clean-up’ activities directly connected with the original robbery and killing, and therefore the second robbery can rationally be linked to the murder that enabled the robbery." Id. ¶ 8 (emphasis added). Here, Defendant argues that the CSP was not rationally linked to the murder, and the State argues that it was.

{16} Because of the distinctions between the purpose and intent of the robbery and CSP statutes, we decline to extend the Montoya test to our analysis of the CSP statute. Compare NMSA 1978, § 30-16-2 (1973) (Robbery), with § 30-9-11 (CSP). Instead, a clearer path to resolving this question is determining the meaning of the word "person" pursuant to Section 30-9-11(A) in conjunction with the purpose and intent of this specific CSP statute.

{17} When used within the New Mexico Criminal Code, person is defined as "any human being or legal entity, whether incorporated or unincorporated, including the United States, the state of New Mexico or any subdivision thereof." NMSA 1978, § 30-1-12...

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