Trial begins for man accused of deadly hit and run in Albany's Washington Park

January 09, 2018 07:08 PM

ALBANY - Testimony wrapped up for the day late Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Jose Martinez with a detective on the stand.

Both sides say that two key witnesses have changed their stories about who was behind the wheel when they came upon the victim. 

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But prosecutors say they have the man responsible for the fatal hit and run, and that they can prove it.

Presenting their opening argument in front of Judge Frank Milano in Albany County Court, prosecutors say Jose Martinez was on parole, out past his curfew, driving with a suspended license and had just bought beer when he rear-ended a car at Henry Johnson Boulevard and Central Avenue shortly before 4 a.m., took off, went into Albany's Washington Park, and hit and killed former UAlbany student Ragine Martinez in February.

Prosecutors say just before Jose Martinez arrived, a couple had seen the 21-year-old lying with her head on the road, feet on the grass in the park, and stopped to help.

"The defendant drove past those people as he drove through the park – forcing one of them to dive out of the way, ran over Ms. Martinez's skull, killing her instantly. He did not touch his brakes enough to leave a mark in the road. He did not slow down. He did not stay after he ran over her skull and killed her," said Albany County Prosecutor Michael Shanley.

However, Martinez's attorneys say there is a big problem with the prosecution's star witnesses – that they lied about who was driving that night.

Earlier this week, attorneys say they learned that video shows the man getting behind the wheel, not the woman.

The couple will not be prosecuted for lying to a grand jury.

In its opening argument, the defense told the jury that the couple, not Martinez, hit the young woman.

"These are two despicable individuals who, instead of calling 911 when a girl is dying in the street, are deciding how they're going to get their stories straight. Are you kidding me?" said defense attorney Danielle Neroni.

No DNA or blood were found on the car that Martinez was allegedly driving. Prosecutors say there will be medical testimony to explain that, given the type of injury she sustained.

Police testimony will resume Wednesday morning.


WNYT Staff

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