Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
July 1, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
JURY RECOMMENDS DEATH FOR MAN LINKED THROUGH PEPSI CAN DNA TO STABBING-MURDER
OF ELDERLY SANTA ANA COUPLE
SANTA ANA – A jury recommended the death penalty today for a man convicted of murdering an elderly couple by stabbing them to death after being linked to the crime through DNA found on a Pepsi can. Carlos Martinez, 33, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury on Aug. 14, 2008, of two felony counts of special circumstances murder during the commission of a burglary, two felony counts of elder abuse, and one felony count of first degree residential burglary. The sentencing enhancement allegations for multiple murders, the personal use of a deadly weapon, and great bodily injury to an elder were found true. Martinez has a prior conviction for a 1995 car theft. Martinez is scheduled to be formally sentenced at 9:00 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2009, in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
A jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, voting 11 to one in favor of the death penalty, during the first penalty phase on Aug. 20, 2008. The re-trial of the penalty phase began on June 16, 2009.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 29, 2004, Martinez went to the Santa Ana home of Nicolas Casas, 83, and Emilia Casas, 73, with the intention of burglarizing the couple’s house. The married couple had their house up for sale and was planning to move to Riverside so that one of their children could help care for them. Martinez was able to enter the home by pretending to be a prospective buyer. Shortly after he arrived, one of the victim’s daughters called the house and spoke to her parents, who told her they were excited to have a potential buyer at the residence. After the victims had spoken to their daughter, the defendant stabbed each victim several times using steak knives from the kitchen and left their bodies on the floor before ransacking the house. He drank a Pepsi and left the can on the kitchen counter.
Martinez was in the home until approximately 8:00 p.m., but fled the scene empty handed after being startled away, possibly by the arrival of another of the Casas’ daughters. A neighbor witnessed someone running from the porch of the victim’s home at approximately the same time one of the daughters arrived to check on her parents.
The daughter, who regularly visited her parents, found the victims on the floor in the living room. The ransacked house was covered in blood, including smears on the walls. Items from the crime scene, including the Pepsi can, were tested and the defendant was later linked to the crime through DNA. The defendant’s DNA was also found in a bloody handprint on a pillow in the bedroom and on a drawer in the hallway.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.