Dec. 21, 2015 Staff Report
He was 15 years old when he strangled a woman to death in Astoria. Nearly seven years later, at the age of 22, Corona resident Jose Martinez now faces 14 years to life in prison for his crime.
Martinez pleaded guilty Friday to killing 23-year-old Carmen Saldana on July 12, 2009, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Martinez, who was riding his bicycle that day, encountered the woman on the street and started talking to her.
He followed her home and once inside the Astoria apartment she shared with her mother, the two argued and a physical altercation ensued.
Martinez then wrapped his hands around the victim’s neck and choked her to death.
“This was a brutal murder – made all the more horrible because the defendant was just 15 at the time. A young woman’s life was senselessly cut short and the defendant, now an adult, will face a lengthy term behind bars when sentenced next month,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Martinez was apprehended as a result of a DNA hit following a 2012 conviction for attacking a cab driver at LaGuardia Airport. That sample was matched to DNA found at the crime scene.
After this DNA hit, investigators were concerned that Martinez was misrepresenting his age for a lighter, juvenile sentence, according to published reports from the time. However, the Queens DA’s office said Monday that Martinez had been able to produce legal documents proving his birth date as Sept. 24, 1993.
Martinez will be sentenced on Jan. 27. Judge Gregory Lasak has indicated that he will sentence Martinez to 14 years to life in prison as a juvenile offender, according to Brown.