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Judge rejects plea deal in vehicular homicide case, sending it to trial

Morgan Aguilar
October 18, 2017 05:20 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Family members of Devon Martinez showed up to court Wednesday morning thinking it was their last chance to fight for justice.

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Instead, Judge Brett Loveless denied a previous plea deal taken by the defendant, Joseph Perea. As a result, the vehicular homicide case is heading to trial.

In August of 2016, police say Perea was kicked out of a house party near Juan Tabo and Central. Before taking off, Perea rammed his car into 22-year-old Martinez, pinning him to another car.

Martinez was taken to the hospital but died from his injuries.

"Still, even after a year, I'm still waiting for my Devon to walk through the front door," Melanie Cotter, Martinez’s mother, told the court.

Perea had pleaded no contest to several charges, including vehicular manslaughter. On Wednesday morning, family members asked the court for the maximum sentence, and hoped to have some sort of closure.

Instead, they waited as defense attorney Ahmad Assad presented evidence, as he was trying to convince the jury of his client’s innocence.

"He's not that type of person, and the facts suggest that there was a need for him to react to defend himself," Assad said.

After that presentation, Loveless questioned why Perea had ever taken a plea deal in the first place and decided to reject it, sending the case to trial.

Assad told KOB he has always “had a problem” with clients taking guilty pleas in these types of cases.

“I've always personally had a problem with that but that's ultimately the client's decision,” he said.

Since most of the pretrial interviews had already been completed, Loveless said he expects the trial to start either at the end of December or early next year.

Credits

Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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