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Murder suspect Martinez will not face death penalty

Ricardo Alfonso Lara Martinez, who is facing a murder charge for a December 2014 slaying at a local business office, will not face the death penalty, according to First Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck.

On Thursday, FBI agents returned Martinez to Denton after he had been in custody in Mexico since February 2016. Martinez is charged in the murder of his 5-year-old son's mother, Maria Isabel Romero Medina, who was found dead Dec. 13, 2014, at Sanchez Insurance and Tax Services, 1111 E. McKinney St. The boy, now 7, has since returned to Denton.

Martinez has yet not been given an initial court date, Beck said.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bruce McFarling's 362nd Judicial District Court. The district attorney's office announced Assistant District Attorneys Michael Graves and Lindsey Sheguit will be leading Martinez's prosecution.

Ricardo MartinezCourtesy photo
Ricardo Martinez
Courtesy photo

Martinez, who is currently in the Denton County Jail, admitted to police investigators on Thursday that he caused Medina's death, department spokesman Shane Kizer said. Martinez's bail is set at $1 million, Kizer said. 

Beck said the death penalty is not an option in the case because Martinez has been charged with murder, not capital murder. The latter charge requires several additional factors, including a murder in the course of committing another crime. 

"He will then have several announcement settings just like every other defendant," Beck said Friday in an email. "At some point he will likely be set for trial, but all of that is dependent upon him and his attorney. [It's] business as usual on our end."

Police in an arrest affidavit said Medina died Dec. 12, 2014, as a result of a deliberate assault. Police said she suffered numerous injuries, including a fractured skull. The cause of death included strangulation, the document said. 

At the time, Romero sought full custody of the boy, who had been a point of contention between the parents, the affidavit said. 

"The manner in which the victim was murdered is indicative of a direct reaction to a strong emotional response, frequently seen in and known to happen in child custody cases," according to the affidavit.

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.