Fred C. Martinez, Jr. (May, 1985 – June 16, 2001) was a transgender Native American student of Navajo ancestry. Martinez was a student at Montezuma-Cortez High School in Cortez, Colorado, when he was attacked and beaten to death by 18-year old Shaun Murphy. Although considered a hate crime by many, the crime was not charged as such because the legal definition of hate crime does not apply to crimes based on the victim's gender identity or gender expression (see also the Matthew Shepard case). Murphy is currently serving 40 years in prison.
The Crime Edit
Murphy, who said in testimony he was drunk at the time, assaulted Martinez and crushed his skull with a rock, leaving him in a canyon outside of Cortez called The Pits, the Denver Post reports. Although he claimed not to have realized that the blows were fatal, Murphy bragged about the confrontation, and did not summon help.
Five days after the attack, when Martinez's body was discovered, the Post reported that Murphy was heard to say: "Killed that fool, huh?"
The Investigation Edit
Police failed to contact his mother, Pauline Mitchell, until June 25th despite numerous calls to their office reporting her son missing. On July 3rd, Shaun Murphy, 18, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Police were told that Murphy had bragged to a friend that "he had beat up a fag."
Mitchell read the details of her son's autopsy - the skull fracture, the slashed abdomen - in the newspaper rather than being informed about it by the district attorney's office, she complained to the Governor's Victims' Compensation and Assistance Coordinating Committee in Denver. She also alleged that District Attorney Joe Olt failed to alert her of other important developments in her son's case and therefore violated her rights as a victim. "The District Attorney's office has denied me the right to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity and the right to be informed of and present for all critical stages of the criminal justice process," Mitchell wrote in the formal Request of Enforcement of Compliance with the Requirements of the Crime Victims Constitutional Amendment. As a result, charges were upgraded to first-degree murder.
At the trial, Murphy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and Montezuma County Judge Sharon Hansen sentenced him to 40 years in prison, where he remains.
The Martinez case did not receive as much publicity as other similar cases, which some critics attribute to his minority status. In a notable exception, Teen People magazine wrote an article about the murder. One of the people who wrote in to thank them was Sylvia Guerrero, the mother of Gwen Araujo, another murdered transsexual.
See also Edit
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