LAS CRUCES – A Las Cruces resident who was 16 when he fatally shot another person in a drug deal gone awry was sentenced to 22 years in prison after agreeing to a plea deal.
Matthew A. Martinez, 18, was sentenced as an adult Thursday for second-degree murder and other charges related to the 2020 shooting death of Fabian Lopez, according to the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Martinez was sentenced two years after the Aug. 4, 2020 shooting in the 900 block of Branson Avenue.
Some details of the incident which hadn’t yet made public because the shooting suspects were all juveniles were included in a news release from the DA’s Office announcing Martinez’s sentence.
Lopez’s girlfriend told investigators that her boyfriend drove — along with her and their infant child — to a predetermined location to deal Xanax pills. At the meet-up, Martinez is accused of entering the vehicle, pointing a handgun at Lopez and demanding he hand over the drugs. Two others outside the vehicle also held guns, according to the girlfriend.
She said Martinez flashed the gun toward her in the backseat and she responded, “we have a baby in the car.”
Prosecutors stated Martinez then fired his weapon, striking Lopez in the torso, and fled from the scene with the others.
Lopez attempted to drive away, the news release stated, but crashed into a nearby fence. He was transported to Memorial Medical Center where he later died. Lopez was 24.
Nearly two weeks after the shooting, police announced they had arrested six teenagers. In a news release Aug. 17, 2020, police stated two 16-year-old boys and a 13-year-old boy were each facing murder charges for their roles in the shooting. Also, police charged two 17-year-old girls and another 16-year-old boy with harboring and aiding a felon after the fact.
Prosecutors said evidence gathered at the scene and witnesses identified Martinez as the shooter. Because juvenile cases are sealed, it’s not clear whether any of the other teen suspects were eventually charged and/or convicted.
Martinez ended up pleading guilty to second degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and child abuse.
“We are a society that is facing a gun culture of young men with firearms who are willing to use them. These young men involved in gun violence resulting in death face adult sanctions and accountability for their actions,” District Attorney Gerald Byers said in the news release. “We fully support the court’s determination that this defendant was not amenable to treatment; and a strong, adult sentence was handed down by the judge.”
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Lucas Peerman can be reached at [email protected] or @LittleGuyInATie on Twitter.