EL CENTRO, Calif. – A jury found defendant, Martin Gabriel Andrade, guilty of first degree murder today at Imperial County Courthouse.
Victim, Martin Alberto Garza, was 17 years old when he was allegedly stabbed in the chest by Andrade.
Garza’s aunt, Yethel Alonso, said the verdict brings closure to their family.
“I’m happy. I’m happy and I know this will never bring back my nephew – he’s never coming back, but it just gives us peace,” Alonso said.
During the trial, Alonso said the jury didn’t know Andrade was previously convicted for assault with a deadly weapon.
“We already knew, but we couldn’t say anything. We knew he had done this previously. We knew he was out on probation because he had done this previously and Gordo (Garza) just stepped in his path right after he was released for probation,” Alonso said.
She said listening to Andrade claim his innocence caused pain.
“It hurt our family because we knew what happened. We knew he had murdered our – my nephew,” Alonso said.
Garza’s mother, Yulil Alonso-Garza, said she held onto her faith just before the verdict was read.
“I was praying. I was praying a lot holding onto the people who give me the will to keep on living, my daughter and my husband,” Alonso-Garza said.
In the moments prior she reached out to her late son in her thoughts.
“I kept talking to my son,” Alonso-Garza said.
The Garza family credits the outcome to law enforcement agencies.
“The prosecuting team – they did an amazing job, and the El Centro Police Department and the different agencies,” Alonzo-Garza said.
Yethel Alonso added, “The way the detective handled his interviews was I think what sealed the deal.”
This Thursday Martin Alberto Garza would have turned 21 years old.
“I know that he is dancing and celebrating in heaven and we will celebrate with him as well here on earth,” Alonso-Garza said.
Sentencing is set for June 30th. Under California Penal Code 187, a person can face 25 years to life in state prison for first degree murder.
“There’s one less violent perpetrator in our community and I know there’s more out there but we take one at a time and this one was very, very personal,” Alonso-Garza said.
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