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New Richmond man sentenced for 'reprehensible' gun incident with mother

Omar Martinez

A St. Croix County Circuit Court judge called a New Richmond man's actions toward his mother "absolutely reprehensible" before sentencing him to prison.

St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack on Monday, Oct. 22, sentenced 26-year-old Omar Martinez to four-and-a-half years behind bars and five years on extended supervision. Martinez, who pressed a handgun to his mother's head, pleaded guilty July 30 to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and misdemeanor battery involving a dangerous weapon.

The reckless endangerment charge — a felony — carries a maximum penalty of more than seven years in prison, which was six months longer than what St. Croix County Assistant District Attorney Erica Ellenwood sought.

"I could have easily sentenced you to what Ms. Ellenwood recommended," Vlack told Martinez, describing the prison term as "fully warranted."

Vlack said the maximum penalty might well have been deserved, were it not for the impassioned pleas for mercy from Martinez's family, including his mother.

"That takes a lot of guts," Vlack said of the family members' testimony. "What you did takes zero guts."

Ellenwood described the Sept. 29, 2017, incident during proceedings, where she said the victim — Martinez's mother — was getting his children ready for the day. The victim, who fled an abusive relationship in Mexico before bringing her own children to Wisconsin, was the primary caretaker for Martinez's children, the prosecutor explained.

The victim was waiting for her friends to arrive that morning; they were supposed to watch the children that day.

That was when authorities said Martinez showed up at her house. Ellenwood said the victim, concerned about Martinez's intoxication, tried separating the kids from their father, which angered him.

He rushed her and pressed a .380-caliber pistol to her head, the prosecutor said.

"Once I figure out why this gun isn't working, I'm going to kill you," Ellenwood said Martinez told his mother.

The victim's friends arrived in the middle of the episode and were told by the victim to call 911. When New Richmond police arrived, they found Martinez waving the gun around the garage, where one of his children remained, Ellenwood said.

She said Martinez was eventually arrested, but not before his mother was left with bruising and swelling on her head from where he jabbed her with the gun.

Martinez "showed utter disregard for human life" and "the woman who gave him life," Ellenwood said, noting how an ambulance was called to her house the next day because she had gone unconscious from a panic attack that required a sternum rub to bring her to.

The victim said the incident has left Martinez's children with questions she can't answer.

"Every single day they ask for their father," she said during a victim-impact statement in which she suggested the incident was out of character for her son. "He was not like that."

During his time to address the court, Martinez said it wasn't his intention to harm his mother, a point that stuck in Vlack's craw.

The judge made Martinez speak with his attorney to be sure he understood the battery count to which he pleaded involved the admission of intent to do harm.

After conferring with defense attorney Shirlene Perrin, Martinez said the statement didn't represent a withdrawal of his plea.

"It's beyond me," Martinez said of the assault. "It's crazy what happened."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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