Former Police Officer Sentenced to Four Concurrent Prison Sentences for Forcing Suspected Drunk Driver and Passenger to Run Down Alligator Alley Naked
South Florida news headlines tell of numerous abuses by people in positions of authority. While elected officials, law enforcement officers, and wealthy executives usually are not able to avoid legal consequences for their actions, they are much more likely to get lenient sentences and generous plea deals, so that the sentences they serve seem like a slap on the wrist compared to the suffering they inflicted on their victims. At the end of last year, a defendant was charged with forcing a young man and a young woman to run down Alligator Alley naked; he did this in his capacity as a Miccosukee police officer. While ten years in prison, the time he was ordered to serve, hardly counts as getting away without consequences, he could have faced a much longer sentence if he had been convicted of all of the offenses of which he was accused and if he had been ordered to serve all his sentences consecutively instead of concurrently. Specifically, one of the victims claimed that the defendant attempted to force her to perform a sex act, but this accusation does not appear to figure into his sentence. Here, our Miami sex crimes defense attorney explains how the officer exploited the vulnerability of two teenagers he pulled over at a traffic stop and how he was brought to justice.
The Charges: Extortion and Unlawful Compensation
In August 2016, Michael Martinez, who was in his late 20s and employed as a Miccosukee police officer, pulled over a car near mile marker 48 of Alligator Alley, near the Miccosukee reservation, after the driver ran a stop sign. The occupants of the car, Kyle Shoulta and Remy Riley, were both 18 years old, and Martinez found alcohol and marijuana in their car. Martinez threatened to take them to jail but told them that they could avoid criminal charges if they would take off their clothes and run down Alligator Alley naked. He also attempted to pressure Riley into performing a sex act by using these same threats. Fearing incarceration and convinced that doing what Martinez said was the only way to keep their freedom, Shoulta and Riley complied with Martinez’s demands. They followed him to a remote area of Alligator Alley, removed their clothes, and ran down the road.
The Trial: Victims Testify to Extortion and Humiliation by Defendant
Frightened as they were on the night of the traffic stop, Riley and Shoulta had the presence of mind to record video footage on their cell phones of Martinez’s actions. Martinez was charged with two counts of extortion and two counts of unlawful compensation; he entered a plea of not guilty. At the trial in 2019, both victims presented testimony about their ordeal. Shoulta said that he thought that obeying Martinez was the only way to avoid going to jail. Riley said that she had hoped that running down the road in her bra and underwear would be enough to fulfill Martinez’s demands, but Martinez made her remove her undergarments as well, and that she tried her best to cover herself while she ran.
The Sentence: Four Consecutive Ten-Year Sentences in State Prison
During the trial, prosecutor Justin McCormack praised the victims for their courage in recording the events and testifying during the trial. He also noted apparent lack of remorse on the part of Martinez, who did not testify at his trial. In October 2019, the jury found Martinez guilty of two counts each of extortion and unlawful compensation. He could have faced as little as five years and nine months in state prison or as much as 60 years. On November 25, Broward Circuit Judge Tom Coleman handed down four sentences of ten years each, one for each of the counts; he ordered Martinez to serve the four sentences concurrently, which means that he must only spend ten years behind bars.
Although he was taken to jail to await sentencing, Martinez may currently be free. He appealed his conviction, and his bond was set at $20,000. No news reports about his case were published after the announcement about his sentence in late 2019.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Intimidating someone into performing a sex act or into removing his or her clothes in your presence is a crime. No matter what you are accused of doing, and under what circumstances, you have the right to due process. A Miami sex crimes lawyer can help you plead not guilty or can help you appeal your conviction if you have already been convicted. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo for help today.