LOS ANGELES – A state appeals court panel reduced a Palmdale man’s conviction to second-degree murder for the slaying of his girlfriend, who was stabbed nearly 100 times at the Palmdale home she shared with her 84-year-old mother.
In a ruling released this week, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation and deliberation to support Jose Alberto Martinez‘s first-degree murder conviction for the Sept. 20, 2014, stabbing of Magda Bermudez, 49, whose body was found by her mother in a bedroom.
“The People contend the jury’s finding of premeditation and deliberation was supported by a combination of the manner of killing, Martinez and Magda’s ‘tumultuous romantic relationship,’ and Martinez’s post-killing actions. We conclude otherwise. Martinez’s infliction of 98 stab wounds was not an execution-style killing in which the manner of killing demonstrated a cold, calculated judgment,” the panel found in its 24-page opinion. “Therefore, additional evidence of planning activity or motive was necessary to support a conviction of first-degree murder. It is undisputed the People presented no evidence of planning activity at trial.”
The appellate court panel ordered Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Shannon Knight to re-sentence Martinez for second-degree murder and to exercise her discretion on whether to impose sentencing enhancements for his prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery in 2001 and extortion in 2010.
The first jury to hear the case against Martinez deadlocked, with the second jury convicting him in May 2017 of first-degree murder.
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