The Riverside County District Attorney will seek the death penalty for a man sentenced to die in Arizona for murdering a police officer.
Ernesto Salgado Martinez, 36, is charged with fatally shooting a clerk in Blythe on the same day he murdered a peace officer in Arizona. He was sentenced to death in Arizona for the Aug. 15, 1995, killing of Department of Public Safety Officer Robert Martin.
During a hearing at the Larson Justice Center Friday, Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Victoria Weiss told Superior Court Judge William S. Lebov that prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty in the Blythe case, according to court records.
In August 1995, Martinez shot Martin four times during a traffic stop near Phoenix and took the 57-year-old officer’s weapon before speeding off. He was brought to Riverside County last August to face a first-degree murder charge in connection with the shooting of 43-year-old Randip Singh, a convenience store clerk in Blythe, several hours after Martin was killed.
Martinez has exhausted all of his appeals at the state level. One federal appeal remains before his Arizona death sentence can be carried out, Deputy District Attorney Pete Nolan said in May.
Arizona authorities had asked Riverside County prosecutors to hold off seeking the death penalty in California until the state-level appeals process was completed in Arizona, said John Hall of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said authorities had agreed that even if Martinez was sentenced to death in California, he would still be sent back to Arizona.
Zellerbach said he made the decision to seek the death penalty for Martinez last week.
“I felt legally obligated to review each pending death penalty case and restaff those,” said Zellerbach, who took office in January. “(Last week) was the first time this one was staffed.”
Zellerbach said prosecutors considered several factors, including criminal history, when deciding whether to seek capital punishment.
Martinez is jailed without bail in Indio. He opted in March to represent himself in the Blythe case and is due back in court Thursday.
According to investigators, ballistics testing matched a shell casing found at the Blythe store to the bullets in Martin’s service weapon. When Martinez was arrested in Indio, both the .38-caliber pistol used to kill Martin and Martin’s gun were recovered, authorities said.