Judge Refuses Trial Delay For Quadruple Murder Suspect

Defense Believes Accused's IQ Disqualifies Him From Death Penalty

Associated Press
October 18, 2019 - 7:49 am

Carson City Sheriffs Office


RENO, Nev. (AP) — A judge has refused to grant a delay in the trial of a man suspected of killing four northern Nevadans in separate, unrelated shootings back in January.

Lawyers for Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman asked to postpone his trial to determine whether he has an intellectual disability that makes him ineligible for the death penalty if convicted.

Public defenders for Martinez-Guzman, 20, had filed a motion for a continuance in the trial scheduled to begin April 6, 2020.

They said their recent trip to El Salvador to interview family members and review his medical files produced “tantalizing indications” that he’s constitutionally barred from capital prosecution.

They said information gathered so far shows his IQ is much lower than originally believed and that he may have been exposed to pesticides and fertilizers while working in farm fields in his native country.

Prosecutors say Martinez-Guzman’s lawyers didn’t provided enough details to warrant such a lengthy delay in the prosecution of the case stemming from a week long killing rampage in January.

Federal officials have said Martinez-Guzman is in the U.S. illegally, but they don’t know how or when he crossed the Mexico border. The case has drawn the attention of President Donald Trump, who says it shows the need for a border wall.

Martinez-Guzman was indicted March 13 on four murder counts in the killings of a Reno couple at their home days after he shot two women at their residences in Douglas County near Gardnerville. Prosecutors quickly declared they would seek the death penalty.

A detective testified before the grand jury that Martinez-Guzman told her during an interrogation that he robbed and killed his elderly victims because he needed money to buy methamphetamine.

According to Martinez-Guzman's attorneys, refusing a continuance would “deny the expert the necessary information and testing required to prepare and complete his report,” they said. “If the trial date remains, he would testify with virtually no preparation or foundation because the tests and interviews would be incomplete.”

District Attorneys Chris Hicks of Washoe County and Mark Jackson of Douglas County said Guzman’s motion relied on generalities associated with defending capital cases and El Salvadoran defendants.