ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A judge has decided the fate of a state senator charged with driving drunk and causing a crash. The judge found State Senator Richard Martinez guilty.
The well-known Democrat had claimed police botched the case following a crash in Espanola over the summer. After hearing testimony from the victims and first responders, Judge Francis Mathew wasn’t buying the state senator’s argument.
“I find the defendant guilty of aggravated driving while under the influence of liquor as charged in count one,” Judge Mathew said.
He also found Martinez guilty of reckless driving.
The two-day trial wrapped up late Tuesday afternoon as an Espanola firefighter and police officer testified about the night Martinez slammed into the back of a couple’s car at a red light. The officer said Martinez smelled like alcohol and even admitted to drinking, but he refused a breath test.
Martinez’s defense called out the Espanola Police Department, claiming a responding officer didn’t turn on his lapel camera right when he arrived at the scene, arguing the footage they watched in court didn’t give a full picture of what happened that night. His defense also tried to poke holes in the field sobriety tests.
In closing arguments, prosecutors gave the senator a lecture.
“No one is above the law, not even a senator. Not even this defendant. The reason why is because especially in the enforcement of reckless driving laws and DUI, any person can be a danger on the roads when they choose to drink and drive,” prosecutors said.
Martinez will be sentenced on Jan. 7. He faces a minimum of two days in jail and could face up to six months.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is now calling on the well-known Democrat to give up his Senate seat. She released the following statement Tuesday evening:
As I said at the time of this incident, Senator Martinez was obligated to reflect on his actions and how best to reconcile them with his position as a public servant in the state Legislature, in particular his status as chairman of an influential committee. The senator’s defense of himself does not suggest to me that any such personal reckoning has taken place – and given the judge’s unambiguous ruling this afternoon, I urge him to resign his seat. There is no way to square the circle: Drunken driving is an intolerable scourge in our state, and our elected leaders must hold themselves to the highest possible standard of behavior.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham