“Justice Served” for Leadville Family
One thousand six hundred and seventy-five days. That’s a long time – almost five years – to see justice finally served in a small mountain town. But for two Leadville families, the judge’s gavel finally came down in the Clear Creek County Courtroom on February 7 as the guilty verdict against Maria Day (aka locally as Linda Martinez) was read, ending the two-week 2nd Degree Murder trial which will likely put Day behind bars for years once sentencing is issued for the death of John Martinez.
“The family is relieved to finally have closure with this heartbreaking event and is pleased to see justice served,” read the note from the family of the victim John Martinez, whose family/brother James owned and operated The Grill Restaurant in Leadville for more than 50 years until they closed the doors last October. John Martinez grew up, went to school and was a friend to many in Leadville.
Locally, the murder case saw its share of challenges which seemed to drag the case on for years. One of the primary issues was in finding an untainted jury pool since most Lake County residents would have had familiar ties to one of the parties involved. As the months churned into years, District Attorney Bruce Brown eventually moved the case down to Georgetown which is located in Clear Creek County, a part of the Fifth Judicial District which also includes Lake County. Eventually, a jury was seated and the case moved to trial. And so finally after 1,675 days since the murder which took place in July 2015, a verdict was decreed ending years of painful delays and frustrations in the case that ended in the loss of a son, a brother and a friend to many in Leadville. Day was found guilty of his death.
For the sake of fair and balanced reporting, Leadville Today also reached out to the family of Maria Day for comment. That will be added to the story if and when any statement is received. And finally, the following press release was distributed to media outlets by District Attorney Bruce Brown’s office and is printed here in its entirety.
Leadville Woman Who Drove Over and Killed Her Boyfriend Found Guilty
After a nearly 2-week jury trial here, Maria Day, 59, of Leadville was found guilty late yesterday of 2nd Degree Murder (Class 2 Felony), for the death of John Alexander Martinez, 55. Day was found guilty of running over Mr. Martinez on James St. in Leadville July 8, 2015. The case was moved to Clear Creek County (Georgetown) when an insufficient number of impartial jurors could not be chosen in Lake County.
On the day of the murder, Day was returning with victim Martinez from a shopping excursion. In the car was Day’s elderly mother, suffering from dementia and who was unable to give much information about what transpired when they returned to Leadville. Day was at the wheel of her Lexus. People driving by saw Martinez lying by the side of the road and presumed he was passed out. What they didn’t see and what there were no eyewitnesses to, other than Defendant Day and her mother, was that Day had intentionally ran victim Martinez over after he had gotten out of the car to walk, leaving tire tracks on his pants.
First responders found Martinez near a concrete wall that abutted the roadway. He died hours later of severe wounds over his entire body.
Leaving Martinez by the roadside to die, one-half hour after striking him and watching as police arrived, Day called 9-1-1 to report the incident, feigning remorse for hitting “someone”, neither naming that someone as her boyfriend John (who she had just had run over) or describing how it was that the “accident” occurred. Surveillance video from a nearby home belonging to Day’s sister, attached to this release, showed Day fleeing the immediate area where Martinez lay, dropping her mother off, then inspecting and attempting to buff away damage to her right front bumper, left by the incident. The video did not depict the actual homicidal act.
Leadville Police arrested Day near the accident site shortly after they arrived. The jury rejected Defendant Day’s explanation given to police that as she dropped off Martinez, her transmission stuck, causing her car to accelerate and run him over. The prosecution presented extensive evidence that the Lexus car make and model had no history of a faulty transmission, as well as the prior car owner testifying that when it was sold a year earlier, it was in good working order (also according to accident reconstruction experts).
“After an extraordinarily long wait of five years to obtain justice, the family and friends of John Martinez finally are able to have a conclusive judgment that Defendant Day set out to kill and accomplished her goal,” said District Attorney Bruce Brown. “Intimate partner violence is endemic in our society, but acts like this are rare. Nonetheless, an abuser who goes untreated can become a killer like Maria Day. We mourn the loss of another victim,” he added. “This incident should be another call to the United States Senate to re-authorize the Ending Violence Against Women Act, a robust law aimed at ending intimate partner violence by funding services to victims of abuse or violence, safe housing and counseling.”
In 2018, the state of Colorado had at least 37 incidents where domestic violence resulted in a fatality and 43 people died as a result of these incidents. (See Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, Annual Report 2019.)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally introduced and passed in 1995 and must be re-authorized every five years but is currently stalled in the US Senate after the House voted overwhelmingly to re-authorize.
Because the Day guilty verdict entered on a stormy night in Georgetown, Colorado, presiding Judge Catherine Cheroutes excused the parties without setting a sentencing date. Defendant Day is in custody and will remain until her sentencing to the Department of Corrections.
Weekend Storm Outlook
The Colorado Department of Transportation advises motorists wanting to travel to or from the high country to stay where they are currently located through this weekend. Adverse winter weather conditions, including heavy snowfall, high winds, and low visibility continue to impact various areas of the state. As we head into this weekend, please be advised of forecasted weather and road conditions and adjust your travel plans accordingly. Be prepared as travel times may be significantly extended. Allow yourself additional time to reach your destination.
I-70 Mountain Corridor
The brunt of this storm impacted the I-70 mountain corridor from as far east as Golden (Mile Marker 259) through the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels and further west to Rifle. Avalanche mitigation efforts took place from daybreak Friday, Feb. 7 through the afternoon. CDOT’s Avalanche Mitigation Team, in coordination with the team from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, will reassess this evening and determine the best next steps. CDOT will continue to monitor each site throughout the weekend as snow and wind continue. Due to these factors, mountain travel will continue to be challenging and motorists should EXPECT safety closures for avalanche mitigation through the weekend.
BE ADVISED: The best course of action is if you are already in the mountains, stay in the mountains. Current weather conditions are persisting and more snow is on the way, forecast through this evening and the weekend. Alternate routes, such as US 285, will also have extreme winter driving conditions. On Sunday CDOT anticipates slow and heavy traffic from the mountains towards the Front Range and encourages motorists to brace themselves for a very long Sunday trip home.
**For travelers in Silverthorne:
A warming center is open to the public at the Silverthorne Recreation Center, located at 430 Rainbow Drive, Silverthorne, CO 80498.
Summit County and the American Red Cross will open an overnight shelter at Summit Middle School at 6 p.m. People seeking shelter should not arrive at the school parking lot prior to 6 p.m., as crews are working to clear the lot of snow, and passenger vehicles will impede their work. The shelter will provide cots, blankets, restrooms, water and snacks. The shelter will not provide meals or showers. Summit Middle School is located at 158 School Rd., Frisco, CO, 80443. Shelter guests with pets can drop their pets off at Summit County Animal Shelter at 58 Nancy’s Pl., Frisco, CO, 80443, before 5:30 p.m. After 5:30 p.m., people can call Summit County dispatch at 970-668-8600 and ask to be contacted by a Summit County Animal Control officer, who will retrieve a pet and bring it to the animal shelter.