MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) – A rather sensational murder case came to an abrupt end today. Confessed contract killer, Jose Martinez pleaded guilty to the murder of a Decatur man. Lawyers on both side say they believe Martinez changed his plea to guilty in an effort to get out of Lawrence County.
Prosecutors revealed it was a Walmart receipt found at the crime scene that led them to the original suspect in the execution-style shooting of Jose Ruiz. Jamie Romero was originally charged with the murder, but as the investigation continued, it was discovered he was a witness to the killing, and not the actual killer.
“They’ve got the, got a conviction and they know for certain that martinez will spend the rest of his life in prison,” says Lawrence County District Attorney Errek Jett. But his court appointed attorneys were disappointed saying it was a case they could have won, and that Romero should never have been set free.
“There was more evidence against him. In fact, the only thing they had that really tied Martinez was that statement that he gave,” says defense attorney Paula Bassham.
But that wasn’t the only statement Martinez would give. While in police custody he began to tell investigators of other homicides, dozens of them he allegedly committed as a debt collector, or hit-man, for a Mexican drug cartel.
“We know of about eleven that he, eleven murders that he’s been indicted on in other states,” says Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell.
Martinez sentenced to 50 years in prison but he’ll also stand trial in Florida and California for other killings in those states.
In his confession, Martinez says he decided to kill Ruiz over disparaging comments made about his daughter. He said he was also going to kill Romero to keep from leaving a witness behind but says he changed his mind at the last moment.