Father Accused of Selling Daughter Takes Deal

KSBW-TV (Monterey, Calif.), April 6, 2009

A Greenfield father accused of selling his daughter for money, beer and other items accepted a plea bargain that could shorten his time in jail to a month.

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The deal will have Martinez, who has been in prison since his arrest in January, serving an additional one to four months.

Martinez had originally refused a plea offer from prosecutors, and a trial was set to start Monday.

The father is accused of asking for $20,000, 100 cases of Corona beer, 50 cases of Modelo beer, several cases of meat, two cases of wine, 50 cases of Gatorade and 50 cases of soft drinks on a cardboard box in an attempt to arrange a marriage between his 14-year-old daughter to his 18-year-old neighbor.

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Martinez.jpg

Marcelino Martinez.


A Greenfield father accused of arranging a marriage for his 14-year-old daughter pleaded no contest to child endangerment Monday on the cusp of his trial.

Attorneys for Marcelino Martinez said he still denies that he agreed to let his daughter marry an 18-year-old neighbor, but accepted the plea bargain rather than risk a 10-year prison sentence that would have ended with his deportation.

Under the plea deal, Martinez will be sentenced May 7 to probation and up to a year in jail. Incarcerated since his Jan. 12 arrest, he will be released in the next one to four months, his attorneys said.

He is expected to be deported at that time.

Martinez, 36, was charged with procuring a child for sex, aiding and abetting statutory rape, and child endangerment for allegedly agreeing to let his daughter marry 18-year-old Margarito Galindo after the young couple ran away together.

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Among the evidence prosecutor Cristina Johnson planned to present to a jury was a cardboard sheet dated Dec. 22 that she maintained was a marriage contract negotiated by Galindo’s parents after the young lovers ran away. The sheet detailed a dowry, including $16,000 in cash and hundreds of cases of beverages and meat, that the Galindos were to pay Martinez for a wedding reception.

But defense attorneys Miguel and J. Hernandez said they planned to drop a bombshell at the trial with evidence that the list actually detailed food, beer and wine that the Galindos ordered for a large baptism party they held Dec. 27.

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Hayes took great pains before accepting the plea to make sure that Martinez–who speaks only Triqui, the indigenous language of Oaxaca, where jury trials and “no contest” pleas are a foreign concept–understood the rights he was giving up.

As two interpreters translated from English to Spanish to Triqui, the judge informed him that, if he were in the country illegally and he entered a plea of guilty or no contest, he would be deported and could never legally return to the United States.

Martinez said he understood. “I am guilty,” he said.

The negotiations took place under the watchful eye of Mexican Consulate representative Blanca Zarazua of Salinas and consulate attorney Francisco Hernandez.

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Zarazua said it is possible criminal charges would not have been filed if Martinez were able to communicate with investigators in the beginning.

Greenfield Police Chief Joe Grebmeier initially characterized the case in a press release as a father “selling” his daughter in a case of “human trafficking.” The next day, he retracted the statement, saying Martinez had agreed to an arranged marriage, which is common in the Triqui culture.

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Galindo pleaded guilty to misdemeanor statutory rape and was released into federal custody on an immigration warrant over the weekend. He was to be released with a global-positioning bracelet pending his testimony at Martinez’s trial. Zarazua said she expects he will be deported in the coming weeks.

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