Jury deliberations are underway in the murder trial of a 20-year-old Temecula gang member accused of gunning down an associate’s girlfriend in an unprovoked attack.
Jose Adan Martinez could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, illegally carrying a loaded firearm in public and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations in the June 16, 2010, slaying of 20-year-old Maria Semental.
Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases Wednesday following six days of testimony — with an intervening 10-day break.
Prosecutors allege that the defendant shot Semental six times with a .22-caliber handgun as she sat in a first-floor bedroom of her boyfriend’s family’s residence at 27637 Sonora Circle. Martinez had seen Semental and her boyfriend, Adrian Jurado, the previous day, and nothing unusual had resulted from the encounter, witnesses later told sheriff’s investigators.
Martinez, known as “Ghost,” and Jurado, known as “Menace,” were both affiliated with the Old Town Trece gang, according to Deputy District Attorney Erica Schwartz. There were no indications of trouble between the men, she said.
Witnesses told investigators that Martinez was a frequent methamphetamine user and often seemed edgy. According to court papers, on the day of the attack, he picked up a friend, Elijio Cervantes, and the two drove to the Jurado house.
Cervantes told investigators that he was under the impression Martinez was making a social call on Jurado, but when they arrived at the residence, the defendant behaved strangely, going to a rear window and peeking inside.
“He then saw the defendant step back, take a black revolver out of his front pocket and start firing the gun into the room,” Schwartz said.
Semental was hit three times in the left ankle, once in the breast, once in the pelvis, once in the kidney and once in the heart. She died at the scene.
According to the prosecution, multiple witnesses saw Martinez and Cervantes fleeing the location. The latter told investigators that as they were driving away, he demanded to know what had just happened and why, to which Martinez replied, “The party doesn’t start ’til five,” the prosecution’s trial brief alleges.
Later that afternoon, Martinez went to the home of another alleged gang associate, Nicholas Rangel, who told detectives that when he asked the defendant about the shooting, Martinez made inchoate statements, such as “proving a point,” “shot a message” and “it is what it is,” according to court papers.
Martinez is being held in lieu of $1.5 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.