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Preliminary hearing for Modesto man charged with killing 6 - Martin Martinez

Martin Martinez & Dr. Amanda Crews (
A preliminary hearing has been set for August 2, 2017 in the case of the State of CA vs. Martin Martinez.  Martinez, a 30 year old man accused of killing 5 people in a Nob Hill Court home in Modesto on July 18,2015.  Martinez is facing the death penalty if convicted of the multiple murders.

The family connections in this case are heartbreaking and a little hard to follow. The victims names and relationship to Martinez are as follows:
  • Dr. Amanda Crews, ex-girlfriend (38 years old)
  • Rachel, daughter of Amanda Crews and Martin Martinez (6 months old)
  • Elizabeth, daughter of Amanda Crews (6 years old)
  • Anna Brown Romero, mother of Martin Martinez (57 years old)
  • Esmerelda Navarro, niece of Martin Martinez (5 years old
In a separate case, Martinez is facing charges for the death of Amanda Crews' 2 year old son Christopher Ripley who died from a head injury in October of 2014 while in the care of Martinez.  Initially ruled an accident, the manner of death was later changed to a homicide and police were said to be a few weeks away from issuing an arrest warrant at the time of the July 18 murders.  The timing has led to the speculation that the murders could have possibly been prevented had the police moved to arrest Martinez for Christopher Ripley's murder sooner.  

No motive has been stated for the multiple murders, however could this murder charge the event that triggered the violence?  This is a complicated story for sure.  Martinez has told several stories about how Christopher's head injury occurred. Employees at the day care center Christopher attended reportedly saw bruises on him on at least 2 occasions.

On July 18, 2015 Modesto police were called to Dr. Amanda Crews' Nob Hill Court home to perform a welfare check after she failed to show up for a scheduled lunch date with friends.  Following the discovery of the bodies, police began looking for Martin Martinez and he was eventually apprehended outside of a San Jose mall.  Crews' ex husband (and the father of Elizabeth, age 6 and Christoper, age 2) Tim Ripley is devastated that his entire family has been wiped out.  Ripley and Crews divorced approximately 2 years prior to the murders and Crews began dating Martinez.  Martinez's family in San Jose are having a difficult time reconciling what he is accused of doing.  They say they were unaware Crews and Martinez had broken up and claim he "loved his daughter" (Rachel, 6 months old).

Amanda Crews was a physician in Modesto working for Stanislaus County Health Services.  She enjoyed working with low income families and was well respected by her collegues and patients.  Martin Martinez was reportedly employed as a stock clerk with Stanislaus County Health Services.  Martinez had been living with Crews until Child Protective Services issued a protective order that forced him to move out following the death of 2 year old Christopher Ridley.  Martinez allegedly had been trying to persuade Crews to "sneak him" into the house to let him spend time with 6 month old daughter Rachel but Crews refused.

No information has been released on how Crews and the others were killed, however court documents on this case shows a knife was used in the killing of Amanda Crews and Anna Brown Romero and suggests Martinez was lying in wait in all of the killings.  This had to be a horrifying scene to discover and I can only imagine what the people inside that house went through as each of them were attacked.  For one man to kill 3 young and helpless little girls is unimaginable but he is also charged with killing his own mother.

The trial will be difficult for Crews' family to endure, particularly for her identical twin sister Kimberly Crews.  Crews has testified about physical disputes between her sister Amanda and Martinez.  She encouraged Amanda to contact the police to report the incident but she never did.  Amanda and Martin eventually reconciled and this led to a strained relationship between Amanda and Kimberly.

The prosecutors have filed a court document showing what type of evidence will be used to show aggravating circumstances if Martinez is convicted of murder:

  • Testimony of friends and relatives who discovered the victims bodies
  • Photographs and video of the victims in life
  • Victim impact statements; including testimony of victims close friends and relatives
  • The defendants lack of remorse at the crime scene
  • Evidence of the defendants statements regarding the victims
  • Violence used in the homicides
  • Crime scene details showing advance planning and lack of remorse
  • All trial evidence regarding premeditation and deliberation; multiple homicide and lying in wait
In addition the prosecution plans to call character witnesses to testify about child abuse and domestic violence. The question remains; what in the world could have caused Martinez to systematically kill 5 people in that Nob Hill Court home?  How could he kill the mother of his daughter, his own mother and the 6 month old daughter he claimed he loved?  I'll never understand what drives people to this extreme violence where murder becomes the solution to the problems in his life.  

There hasn't been a lot of information released about the crime scene, evidence or potential motive in this case.  Law enforcement believes the killings were domestic violence related.  I have so many questions about what happened here.  How did Martinez gain entry to the home?  Did he still have a house key or did Amanda let him in?  I would imagine one would feel relatively safe having 4 other people in the house with you, although 3 of those 4 were 6 years old and younger.

Martin Martinez will also have to face a jury in the case of the death of 2 year old Christopher Ridley.  Ridley was the son of Amanda Crews and her ex-husband Tim Ridley.  Christopher suffered a head injury while in the care of Martin Martinez in October of 2014 and later died from the injury. While his death was originally classified as an accident, the manner of death was later amended to homicide and a warrant was issued for the arrest of Martin Martinez.

While Martinez was not believed to have been aware of the pending arrest warrant, could he have found out he was about to be arrested and charged with Christopher's murder and become enraged by the thought?  It's so hard to understand how someone could kill that many people who were close to him.  How could you kill your helpless 6 month old daughter?  How could you kill your own mother and niece?  He must have been angry at someone in that house, and all bets are that Amanda Crews was the target of his fury.  Everyone else was just in his way and he decided to kill them all.

According to the Stanislaus County Court website, Martinez is due to appear at a preliminary hearing tomorrow (Aug 2) at 8:30AM.  Perhaps more details will emerge at the hearing - but there is no way these killings will ever make sense to me.  Martinez's family has said he did not suffer from any type of mental illness in the past, which leads us to believe this was pure rage.  

The killings have stunned the city of Modesto, where Dr. Amanda Crews was known and loved by many in the community.  Justice in this case will help the healing begin, but nothing will ever erase the horror Martinez left behind.

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