8/13/15, "Prosecutor may seek death penalty against undocumented worker accused of killing 64-year-old California woman," NY Daily News, Meg Wagner
"California prosecutors may seek the death penalty against an
undocumented immigrant accused of raping a 64-year-old woman and
bludgeoning her to death with a hammer.
Suspects Victor Martinez, a 29-year-old illegal immigrant, and Jose
Fernando Villagomez, a 20-year-old legal resident. are charged in the deadly sexual assault of Marilyn Pharis.
Police said the two men broke into her Santa Maria home on July 24,
raped her, brutally beat her with a claw hammer and then fled, leaving
her for dead.
Pharis, an Air Force veteran who worked as a civilian at Vandenberg Air
Force Base, died in a hospital about a week later as a result of her
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said her office has
not yet decided if it will seek the death penalty for the murder
charges against Martinez and Villagomez — but it is a possibility. She
will base her decision on information from police, the victim’s family,
and another lawyer, she told Fox News.
Martinez and Villagomez, who are expected to make a court appearance
Thursday, face first-degree murder, mayhem, torture and rape charges.
The two were arrested when Pharis was still alive and recovering in a
hospital. Martinez pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder,
sexual assault and burglary charges before her Aug. 1 death. Then, both
men were charged with murder.
Martinez has a long criminal history including six arrests in the past
15 months. The latest was on July 17, just eight days before the alleged
attack on Pharis. He was booked into the Santa Barbara County jail on
drug and weapons charges — but ordered released days later after he
pleaded no contest, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin put at least some of the blame on
federal and California officials and national and state immigration
“This is a national issue. I think it starts in Washington, D.C., with
this administration that we see and these policies. I think you can draw
a direct line over to Sacramento with the policies of, I'm going to
say, this Governor and the Legislature,” he said Friday. “I am not
remiss to say that from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento there's a blood
trail leading to the bedroom of Marilyn Pharis.”
On Monday, presidential hopeful Donald Trump mentioned Pharis’ death while blasting the nation’s immigration system.
“Again, illegal immigrant is charged with the fatal bludgeoning of a
wonderful and loved 64 year old woman. Get them out and build a WALL!”
he tweeted. “We must stop the crime and killing machine that is illegal
immigration. Rampant problems will only get worse. Take back our
Trump has used the deaths of several Americans killed by undocumented immigrants to advocate for stricter immigration laws. Notably, he called attention to the murder of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier last month.
Undocumented immigrant Francisco Sanchez has been charged in the
shooting death of 32-year-old Steinle. Police said Sanchez randomly
attacked her on a busy San Francisco pier.
“Where are the other candidates now that this tragic murder has taken
place b/c of our unsafe border,” he tweeted shortly after the July
shooting. “We need a wall!”"