A state district judge on Tuesday sentenced New Mexico Sen. Richard Martinez to five days in jail and 85 days of supervised probation after finding him guilty last month of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving.
State prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence of 90 days for each charge — a total of 180 days. Martinez faced a mandatory five days of incarceration for the reckless driving charge and a minimum of 48 hours in jail for the aggravated drunken-driving charge.
State District Judge Francis Mathew decided to sentence Martinez to five days in jail for each of the two charges but said the sentences would be served concurrently — meaning the total number of days in jail would only be five.
“As a judge, as a legislator, you asked the people of Rio Arriba County and your legislative district to trust you that you would act in their interest, including protecting them from the harms and dangers arising out of people violating the laws of the state of New Mexico,” Mathew said. “You violated that trust when you drove under the influence of alcohol on the evening of June 28, 2019, and every other time you may have driven under the influence of alcohol.
“It was only by the grace of God that you did not kill someone on that June 28, 2019, evening,” the judge added.
Martinez, a Democrat who lives in Ojo Caliente, must report to jail by Jan. 14, meaning he will have served his jail time before the start of the legislative session Jan. 21. Martinez’s attorney, David Foster, asked the judge for permission for Martinez to serve his time in Santa Fe County, and the judge granted the request.
According to the sentence, Martinez also is required to attend DWI school and must have an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle.
The senator has the opportunity to appeal, but Foster declined to say after the sentencing whether Martinez will do so.
Martinez apologized for the drunken-driving crash in a statement to the court, looking back at victims Johnny and Gerrie Sisneros in the gallery and at times choking up.
“I’m asking you to please find it in your heart to forgive me for this mistake that I made,” he said. “I’m a good man, I’ve worked hard all my life as a public servant.”
Before that, Johnny Sisneros gave a statement in which he also became emotional while talking about the injuries he and his wife suffered and the negative effects the crash has had on their lives. He asked the judge to give Martinez the maximum possible sentence.
“We did not ask for this,” Sisneros said. “We did nothing wrong.”
Sisneros added that the senator had “never displayed any remorse and has never apologized for his senseless actions.”
Foster and multiple family members, including the senator’s niece and sister, lambasted news coverage of the crash and trial.
“Much has been said by the media about my uncle and that he isn’t remorseful,” said the senator’s niece, Marcia Martinez. “He’s not a selfish man or a self-serving man.”
Richard Martinez declined to comment on the sentencing after Tuesday’s hearing. He did, however, criticize news media.
“I feel that I was treated very unfairly by the media,” he said.
Sisneros said after the hearing he did not feel the sentencing was just, and he didn’t believe Martinez’s apology in court was sincere.
“I feel it was another ploy,” he said.
Mathew found Martinez guilty Dec. 17 after a day and a half of testimony in a bench trial that came nearly six months after the senator slammed his Mercedes SUV into a Jeep at an intersection in Española.
On Dec. 28, Senate Democrats announced Martinez would step down from his committee leadership roles, including as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But he declined to resign from his legislative seat, despite an earlier call by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for him to step down.