EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 10, 2013

Jurors shown surveillance video as Lawrence murder trial opens

Jurors shown footage from Lawrence shooting

By Jill Harmacinski

---- — SALEM, Mass. — The surveillance video shows a young man armed with a shotgun getting out of a Nissan Murano. He walks down a Lawrence street and opens fire, kicking up dust and debris and causing area car alarms to trip.

Prosecutor James Gubitose yesterday told jurors the gunman in the video is Rafael Martinez, 21, who allegedly shot Timothy Walker, 20, in the head and killed him as he sat on his grandmother’s 375 Lowell St. porch on July 24, 2010.

But Martinez’s defense attorney James McCall says you can’t make out the man’s face in the video and there are no fingerprints, DNA, fibers or gun that ties Martinez to Walker’s murder.

“There is nothing to really connect Rafael Martinez to this crime,” McCall told jurors.

Martinez, of Lowell, is charged with Walker’s first-degree murder and if convicted faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements were heard in the case yesterday and the trial is expected to continue through the week. Fourteen jurors, eight men and six women, were selected Monday to hear the case.

Martinez’s relatives along with Denise Murray, Walker’s mother, and other of the slain man’s relatives, sat on opposite sides of the courtroom gallery. Walker died two days after he was shot in the head. His grandmother is expected to testify along with police officers who investigated including State Trooper Anthony Schena and Lawrence Police Detective Capt. Denis Pierce.

After his death, Walker’s picture was used on an anti-violence billboard over South Broadway in Lawrence.

Martinez was not immediately charged with murder after Walker’s death, however. On May 2, 2011, a Boston news station aired a segment on Walker’s murder, including video surveillance footage from the vicinity of 375 Lowell St., where Walker was shot.

Gubitose showed the jurors the surveillance video during his opening statement yesterday.

Authorities said Martinez saw the video on the news and then later admitted to his girlfriend and girlfriend’s mother that he was the gunman who shot and killed Walker.

In his opening statement yesterday, Gubitose said after Martinez hit Walker with a shotgun blast so powerful it “sliced through the ride side of his skull.” And after the brutal killing “the defendant went on with his life; the life he lived in Lawrence and the life he lived in Lowell,” he said.

In his Lowell life, Martinez had friends, he went to high school and played football and then continued on to college. But he led another life in Lawrence, where he went on weekends. He kept his activities from his girlfriend, Gubitose said.

After the Fox News segment on Walker’s murder aired, Gubitose said Martinez later admitted to his girlfriend’s mother and his girlfriend that he shot Walker. Martinez said “he wasn’t thinking. That he’d been drinking that day,” Gubitose said.

Martinez, Gubitose said, murdered Walker “in cold blood.”

McCall, in his opening statement, agreed that the murder was “a terrible tragedy for Timothy Walker and his family.” However, he said the prosecution lacks evidence in the case. Martinez was 19 at the time of Walker’s murder, a recent Lowell High graduate who had played high school football for four years, McCall said.

Detectives went 10 months without a break in the case. None of their leads “pointed to Rafael Martinez,” he said.

McCall also said a prosecution witness, Michele Wilson, the mother of Martinez’s girlfriend, had a motive to lie about his involvement in the murder.

“You will come back into this room, look at Rafael Martinez and say ‘not guilty,’” McCall told jurors.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.