EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 18, 2013

Martinez sentenced to life in prison

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — SALEM, Mass. — A Lowell man was convicted yesterday of the first degree murder of Timothy Walker in Lawrence in July 2010.

Rafael Martinez, 21, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole following the week long trial in Salem Superior Court.

Walker, 20, was shot in the head as he sat on his grandmother’s 375 Lowell St. porch on July 24, 2010. Walker was on life support for two days before he died.

“I am so happy. I was so nervous all week. This won’t bring Timothy back but it’s the very last gift I can give to my son,” said Denise Murray, Walker’s mother.

“I’m going to the cemetery after we leave court. It’s done and I can tell Timothy now that he can rest easy,” Murray said yesterday, after the guilty verdict was handed down.

Murray addressed the court, giving an impact statement to Judge Timothy Feeley, prior to Martinez’s 3 p.m. sentencing yesterday.

After her son died at Massachusetts General Hospital, Murray donated his organs. His liver, pancreas, kidneys and a lung were harvested and transplanted into five waiting patients that ranged in age from 18 to 60.

“To me, my son is a hero. He saved five lives,” Murray said.

Jurors in the murder trial viewed surveillance video that showed Martinez getting out of a Nissan Murano armed with a shotgun. Parked near 375 Lowell St., Martinez then fired the shotgun, kicking up dust and debris and tripping car alarms in the area.

Martinez was not immediately charged after Walker’s death but 10 months later after a Boston news station aired a segment on the murder and showed the surveillance video. Authorities said Martinez saw the video on the news and then later admitted to his girlfriend and girlfriend’s mother that, after a day of drinking, he shot Walker.

Prosecutor James Gubitose, in his opening statement, said Martinez hit Walker with a shotgun blast so powerful it sliced through the side of his skull. After the killing, Martinez went onto to live a double life. In Lowell, he was a football player who went to college. His weekend activities in Lawrence he kept hidden from his girlfriend, Gubitose said.

Martinez was defended by Boston attorney James McCall, who argued police lacked fingerprints, DNA, fibers and a weapon to tie his client to the crime.

After his death, Walker’s picture was used on an anti-violence billboard over South Broadway in Lawrence. Murray said she hopes she can be a resource and provide support to other mothers who lose their children to violence.

Gubitose and fellow prosecutor Kim Faitella praised the work of lead investigators, State Trooper Anthony Schena, and Lawrence Police Detective Barry Desjardins.

District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, in a statement, described the case as a “cold blooded brazen murder.” He lauded the bravery of a witness who came forward after seeing the surveillance video, which led to Martinez’s arrest.

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