Vehicular homicide suspect arraigned

By Gary Mitchell

In an emotional arraignment via video Monday, a 32-year-old Clovis man charged with vehicular homicide pleaded for a light bond for his family’s sake.
Magistrate Judge Rick Hollis set the bond at $50,000 cash in connection with the death of Bobbie Lynn Sandoval, 39, who was killed Friday while attending a holiday gathering.
Joe Martinez Jr. is also charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving great bodily harm or death, eluding a police officer resulting in death, criminal trespass and three counts of leaving the scene of a property crash.
He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on all charges, Hollis said.
“I hope you go light on my bond so I can get my family situated,” Martinez told Hollis during the video arraignment.
“That’s the least of your worries,” Hollis said.
Hollis then asked family members present at the arraignment if they wanted to say anything in Martinez’s behalf before Hollis set bond.
“We love him,” said a woman who identified herself as Martinez’s mother. “I’m still in shock. We’re also hurting for the family who lost their loved one. We grieve for them.”
Hollis appointed a public defender for Martinez so he would have representation at his preliminary hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. July 17.
About 9:45 p.m. Friday, Martinez was traveling east on 18th Street in a green 1969 Chevy pickup, according to the criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court. Clovis police officer Rodney Wallace had activated his emergency equipment and was attempting to stop Martinez for a traffic violation, according to court documents.
Court documents show Martinez’s pickup collided with a series of vehicles, pinning Sandoval between two of them. She was pronounced dead at Plains Regional Medical Center soon after she arrived.
According to the criminal complaint, Martinez fled the scene of the accident on foot, running into a house at 501 W. 18th St. and then into the backyard before being apprehended by a Curry County deputy sheriff.
“We offer sympathy to the other family. We feel so sorry for them,” said Martinez’s wife after the arraignment. She asked her first name be withheld because of possible harassment against the family.
Martinez’s sister, who also asked that her name be withheld, said earlier reports of her brother unfairly characterized him.
“They have characterized him as a maniacal monster, and he’s not,” she said. “He’s the opposite of what everyone thinks. He’s not that man. It was an accident. … His children think the world of their dad. They cry and break down. They don’t understand what happened.”