Crime

Insufficient evidence for man arrested in Waterford shooting death, prosecutors say

Stanislaus County Sheriff deputies are on scene of a shooting on the 100 block of S Becky Way Friday morning (09-19-14) in Waterford, CA.
Stanislaus County Sheriff deputies are on scene of a shooting on the 100 block of S Becky Way Friday morning (09-19-14) in Waterford, CA. jlee@modbee.com

Stanislaus County prosecutors decided not to file charges against a man arrested Monday on suspicion of murder in the 2014 shooting of a woman at a Waterford home.

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s officials said this week that traces of DNA found on a knife at the crime scene matched the DNA of Israel Martinez, which led to his arrest. Teresa Unsiog, 42, was killed when she and her boyfriend confronted several thieves trying to steal marijuana plants from the Waterford home’s back yard.

The DNA found on the knife linked Martinez to the crime scene. Sheriff’s officials said Tuesday that Martinez was the only suspect arrested so far.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to file criminal charges against Israel, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be charged at a later date.

The homicide case submitted to prosecutors for review did not have enough evidence to prove to a jury that Martinez committed a crime, according to John Goold, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office.

“As presented to our office, the case was rejected at this time for insufficient evidence to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” Goold told The Bee Wednesday. “There is no statute of limitations on homicide. We would certainly review any additional evidence if and when it becomes available.”

Martinez Israe_fitted.jpeg
Israel Martinez 25 years, is a suspect in a 2014 homicide that occurred in Waterford, Calif. Stanislaus County Sheriff's Dept.

Earlier this week, the District Attorney’s Office filed a murder charge against a Modesto tattoo parlor owner five months after he reportedly shot a homeless man. Days after that fatal shooting, prosecutors announced they weren’t filing charges against the tattoo parlor owner because further investigation was necessary.

Martinez, 25, remained in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail Thursday morning. He was scheduled to appear to appear in court, and he is expected to be released from jail next week, according to sheriff’s custody records.

Unsiog, of Rio Linda, was visiting her boyfriend, who lived in a home along Becky Way, just north of Yosemite Boulevard in Waterford. About 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2014, the couple heard noises coming from the back yard, where the Unsiog’s boyfriend had a marijuana grow.

Authorities have said there were about 25 marijuana plants growing in the back yard, including large plants ready to harvest. The couple went to the back yard to investigate and saw several people stealing the plants.

The couple confronted the suspects. Several gunshots were fired at Unsiog and her boyfriend, sheriff’s officials said, and one bullet struck Unsiog. The suspects drove away from the area.

In addition to the Becky Way home, detectives searched an area around the Assembly of God Church on Pasadena Avenue that was roped off. They also examined a field behind the building.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.
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