Courts

Truck driver facing extradition in Mexican pool hall shooting

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Federal prosecutors in Sacramento are seeking to extradite a truck driver from Sutter to stand trial in Mexico on a homicide charge tied to a pool hall shooting in 2013.

Jose Martinez Santoyo, 66, is facing one count of aggravated intentional homicide with advantage in the death of Jose Luis Vela Miranda in Mexico’s Jalisco state in December of 2013. 

Prosecutors say Martinez, Vela-Miranda, and several others went out for a night of drinking at the Billar Tenzompa pool hall, continuing to drink on the sidewalk after the establishment let out in the early morning hours of December 20th. 

Three of the men’s drinking buddies told police that Vela-Miranda and Martinez got into an argument around 3:00 AM and began walking away from the group. Pedro Conchas and Manuel Miranda told authorities that they heard Martinez tell Vela-Miranda that he was “not a man” before firing two gunshots at him.

The men later identified Martinez through photographs to Mexican authorities. Prosecutors haven’t specified a reason why Martinez wasn’t arrested that night.

The US Marshals Service located two addresses linked to Martinez in the Sutter area through Thomson Reuters CLEAR, according to court documents. When the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office went to check for Martinez, his family told them that he was on a trucking route between California and Washington state.

Investigators in Washington attempted to locate Martinez at several residences and businesses in the state, but couldn’t find him, and marshals began surveillance on the Sutter home in the summer of 2021. They saw Martinez there at that time but couldn’t arrest him because his warrant hadn’t yet been issued.

The Marshals also used what they’ve described as “sensitive law enforcement methods,” redacted out of court documents by prosecutors in fear of other felons reading the papers and changing their gameplans to avoid authorities.

Sutter County SWAT officers surrounded Martinez’s home on May 12 and took him into custody. He was booked on a provisional arrest with a view towards extradition at the Sacramento County Main Jail, and was later transferred to the Nevada County Jail, a facility that federal authorities in Sacramento have a contract with. 

Currently, Martinez is appealing Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman’s June decision to deny his motion for bail during his extradition proceedings, finding no special circumstances exist to let him out. 

Martinez’s federal public defender, Rachelle Barbour, says the court’s decision to require Martinez to prove “special circumstances” for release violates his due process rights because the court has found that he is not a flight risk, a danger to the community, or a risk to skip out on court.

“Requiring an additional demonstration of special circumstances warranting his release is a violation of his constitutional rights,” Barbour wrote in a brief. “In light of this, Mr. Martinez requests that this Court hold that special circumstances are not required, and that it remand this case to the magistrate judge for the fashioning of appropriate conditions of release.”

The US Attorney’s Office has not yet filed a brief in reply to the appeal. A hearing on the matter is currently set for 9:30 AM on September 15, 2022, at 9:30 AM before Judge Troy L. Nunley.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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