Jury gives youthful car wash robber probation

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New Boston, Texas: A Bowie County jury sentenced a 22-year-old man to 10 years probation Wednesday for robbing a Texarkana car wash in 2015.

Edward Martinez pleaded guilty to robbery at a hearing Monday before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell but took his case to a jury for punishment. Martinez’ attorney, Josh Potter of Texarkana, told the judge before trial got underway Wednesday morning that the state offered Martinez a 10-year prison sentence which Martinez declined to accept.

The jury heard testimony from Nelson King, a manager at Boomerang Car Wash on Richmond Road in Texarkana, Texas, about the morning he was grabbed from behind after unlocking the business at 6:30 a.m. King said he was in fear for his life and didn’t know if there was a gun or other weapon pointed at his head when he was ordered to turn off the alarm and open the safe.

King testified under direct examination by First Assistant District Attorney Michael Shepherd that the experience haunts him to this day. After unlocking the safe, King was forced to crawl a few feet to a bathroom where Martinez, whose voice he recognized as Martinez, began placing plastic zip ties on his hands. After a zip tie got caught between King’s fingers and he told his assailant that tightening it would break his fingers, Martinez cleaned out the safe and left. Under cross-examination from Potter, King testified that Martinez did not threaten or assault him during the five-minute robbery.

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Law enforcement witnesses testified that when they went to Martinez’ apartment on Sowell Lane in Texarkana, Texas, about a week after the robbery, they could smell marijuana even before Martinez opened the door. Inside police found two ounces of “Kush” marijuana, empty bank bags with Boomerang written on them, and the clothing seen on surveillance footage.

Martinez admitted that he drove to the Dallas area after the robbery and spent the money on hotel room fees and dinners with his girlfriend.

Martinez’ mother and father told the jury they noticed a change in their son after he began attending a Oklahoma college after graduating from Broken Bow, Okla., High School. His grades were poor and his friends caused them concern. After being given a second chance by the school, Martinez dropped out and moved home, his parents said.

Martinez and his parents testified he got a job at the Texarkana car wash and left home again. After his parents posted bond following the robbery arrest Martinez returned home but his troubles continued. Oklahoma police testified that Martinez was found in possession of prescription pills he’d stolen from a pharmacy where he’d briefly worked when he was arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart in Idabel, Okla., in January 2016 and that he was arrested for driving under the influence in June 2016. All of the charges are misdemeanors.

Martinez’ mother and father told the jury they literally begged their son to change his ways and have noticed a marked change in him since. The parents said they tried to get their son into drug rehab but insurance wouldn’t pay for it and they couldn’t afford it. Martinez said he could not ignore his parents’ wishes and has tried to live a law-abiding life. Martinez testified that he is currently working in a lumber business in Oklahoma and enjoys the work.

“I’m so sorry. I feel like a big piece of trash. I have felt like that for the last two years. It wasn’t worth it all. If I could take it back I would,” Martinez said.

Martinez is scheduled to return to court before Tidwell later this month. Special conditions of probation could include drug treatment. If Martinez violates the terms of his probation, it can be revoked and he could be ordered to spend up to 10 years in prison.

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