Debbie Jo Martines was killed by her boyfriend on February 21, 1994. Her boyfriend was Angela’s ex-husband. She was in the process of leaving him and her parents were to come pick her up the next day. Instead, they got the call that Debbie was dead and her unborn child as well. Debbie was killed in front of two of her own children who were 8 and 10 at the time.
Debbie’s boyfriend had come home drunk and she was not home. She had gone out to look for him because the rule was no one was allowed to eat dinner until he was home. Upon Debbie’s return, he went into a rage and a co-worker, who had come home with him, tried to restrain him. Debbie told the co-worker to back off and said she could handle him. Debbie’s boyfriend then went to a back bedroom, got a gun, forced her to her knees, and shot her execution-style through her body from the back of her neck. After realizing what he had done, he then tried to make it appear to be an accident; fortunately, many witnesses were there and knew the truth.
He was charged with murder but pled down to manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. The judge noted all of his past domestic violence victims and his need to control them. He was granted three Supreme Court appeals –all denied. The victims went on with their lives and have tried their best to overcome this tragedy.
For sixteen years, they all had peace and a sense of closure. However, in 2010, their worlds were turned upside down when clemency was granted to Debbie’s killer reducing his sentence from life in prison with no chance of parole to 150 years in prison with the chance of parole. No notification was given to Debbie’s family or any of the other victims during multiple stages of the criminal justice process. They were not notified about the parole hearing for clemency and they were not notified when the Governor was considering granting clemency. As a result, the family did not have an opportunity to be heard so they could argue why the killer should not receive clemency. The justice system failed them at many stages and they have been re-victimized as a result.
The victims now must endure the killer being eligible for parole every 8 months. Each parole hearing, the victims attend to oppose his release and, each time, they must relive the horror of the crimes he committed. Victims deserve constitutional rights that are equal to the rights of their offenders and enforceable in a court of law. Marsy’s Law will help make sure no other families have to experience the horror that Debbie Jo Martines’ family and other victims, like Angela, have by being left out of a system meant to protect everyone – including victims.