By Linda Looney-Bond
A 19-year-old Jonesboro man was convicted Thursday in a 2007 shooting death connected to a suspected gang initiation, according to Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Jason Green.
The shooting, Green said, took place on Aug. 5, 2007, in the parking lot of the Publix Shopping Center, located at 7535 Highway 85 in Riverdale.
Carlos Martinez was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during a felony, in the death of Indelacio Gallegos, 20, of Jonesboro.
"The verdict spoke the truth," said Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson. Prosecutors in the case were Green and Chief Assistant District Attorney Erman Tanjuatco.
Clayton County Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield sentenced Martinez to life in prison, plus five years, the maximum sentence allowable in the case, according to Green.
Defense Attorney Darrell Reynolds could not be reached for comment.
Green said it appears Martinez and the victim did not know each other. "The defendant, Carlos Martinez, hung with some known gang members. They were all seen out there earlier at the trailer park that they lived in, firing weapons, basically seeming like they were getting ready for something.
"What you have is -- by all accounts -- even by defense witnesses, a victim who was not part of the gang culture, and was completely unarmed. And then the nature of the shot seemed to indicate it being completely random," said Green.
"He [the victim] was seated in his car, and the eyewitnesses indicated that somebody literally just ran up to the window, shot him in the face. It went through the left cheek bone and lodged in his brain," Green said. He said the defendant then fled the scene.
"There were no words yelled. There was no altercation that preceded it, and it was at a public event," Green said. "There was a car show or gathering of car enthusiasts ..., so the random nature of it seemed to indicate ... a random act of violence, which is ... a lot of times, associated with gang initiation," Green said.
"I think the jury sent a very clear message that they are not going to, any longer, tolerate this kind of senseless, random violence ..." he said.
"They [jury] said ... that they're tired of this kind of foolishness taking place in their community, and in fact, want their verdict to resonate out in the community," he added.
Green said Martinez will be eligible for parole, but not for decades. "With the current parole guidelines for murder," he said, "they won't look at you before 30 years."