TULARE COUNTY, Ca. (WHNT) – Nine counts of murder and one count of attempted murder were filed in California against accused contract killer Jose Martinez, 51.
Martinez is currently in custody in Alabama. Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell said Martinez admitted to 17 different murders while in custody. Mitchell said investigators believe Martinez is responsible for as many as 34 deaths, maybe more.
In addition to those charges in California, Martinez has also been charged with special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, lying in wait, kidnapping and murder for financial gain. These special circumstances make Martinez eligible for the death penalty in California, according to the Tulare County District Attorney.
Six of the nine murder victims were killed in Tulare County, two in Kern, and one in Santa Barbara, where the defendant also attempted to kill a witness to that crime, according to Tulare’s District Attorney’s Office.
In chronological order, the California charged are:
- The October 21, 1980 murder of 23-year-old David Bedolla of Lindsay, CA. Bedolla was shot while driving his vehicle to work with his wife, brother, and brother-in-law. The shooting took place between Lindsay and Strathmore in Tulare County.
- The October 1, 1982 murder of 30-year-old Sylvester Ayon and the attempted murder of 17-year-old, only identified at “G. G.,” who were both shot while working on a ranch near the Santa Ynez area off Refugio road in Santa Barbara County. G.G. survived the shooting while Sylvester Ayon died from multiple gunshot wounds.
- The October 19, 1982 murder of 22-year-old Earlimart resident Raul Gonzalez. Gonzalez was last seen at his home on October 19, 1982. Two days later his body was located by ranchers off Fountain Springs Road, east of Porterville. He had been shot and stabbed multiple times.
- The April 8, 1995 murder of 29-year-old Domingo Perez of Earlimart, CA. Perez was reported missing by family members on April 8, 1995. His body was located in an orange grove just north of Richgrove in Tulare County on May 23, 1995. He had been shot multiple times.
- The murder of 56-year-old Santiago Perez of Pixley, who was shot to death in his bed in the early morning hours of February 14, 2000. Perez’s four minor children were home at the time of the shooting.
- The February 15, 2007 murder of 25-year-old Jose Alvarado. Alvarado was located on a dirt access road outside of the town of McFarland in Kern County. He had been shot multiple times.
- The March 23, 2009 murder of 52-year-old Juan Bautista Moreno. Moreno was located in an orange grove south of Elmo Highway near McFarland in Kern County. He had been shot multiple times.
- The September 30, 2009 murder of 45-year-old Joaquin Barragan of Earlimart, CA. Barragan was located on the bank of Deer Creek canal just east of Earlimart by ranchers working the area. He had been missing since September 27, 2009. Barragan suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
- The February 7, 2011 murder of 54-year-old Gonzalo Urquieta of Earlimart, CA. Urquieta was located in an orange grove just outside of the town of Richgrove, CA. He had been missing since February 5, 2011. Urquieta was shot multiple times.
All six Tulare county homicides were investigated by the Tulare County Sheriff’s office.
Martinez is currently in custody in the State of Alabama pending trial on a murder charge from March of 2013. Jose Manuel Martinez is also pending an arrest warrant out of the State of Florida for two murders that occurred in November of 2006.