Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
August 21, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN LINKED THROUGH PEPSI CAN DNA SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR STABBING-MURDER OF ELDERLY SANTA ANA COUPLE
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to receive the death penalty for 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. During the first penalty phase, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Aug. 20, 2008, voting 11 to one in favor of the death penalty. A second jury recommended the death penalty on July 1, 2009, in a re-trial of the penalty phase.
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.
During the sentencing today, the Casas’ eldest granddaughter, Christina Morin, made a statement to the court, “Four days prior [to the murder], my family sat around the Christmas tree and shared what I now know was the last holiday. There was nothing worse than…seeing the pictures of their bodies lying on the floor of their own home with family pictures in the background.”
The Casas’ other granddaughter, Alicia Johnson, said in her statement to the court, “If I knew that Christmas four days earlier was the last time I would see grandma and grandpa, I would not have let go of them when I hugged them goodbye.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney E