Man gets 15 years in transvestite's death

Michael Martinez pleads no contest to aggravated robbery charges

Author: Paul Venema, Reporter,
Published On: Dec 18 2012 04:08:39 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 18 2012 04:26:25 PM CST
Michael Martinez

A 24-year-old man plead no contest Tuesday to aggravated robbery charges in connection with the shooting death of a transvestite.

In 2009, Michael Martinez and his friend, Jesse Ramon, 23, mugged James Whitehead, a well-known female impersonator, according to testimony in Ramon's trial.

San Antonio Police Officer William Karmen arrived on the scene and opened fire when Ramon aimed his gun at the officer. One shot accidently hit and killed Whitehead.

Ramon was also wounded. He recovered from his injuries and was tried and convicted on murder charges in 2011. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

During his sentencing hearing, Martinez told District Judge Ron Rangel that he never touched Whitehead and that his only role in the unusual case was driving the car he and Ramon used that night.

"Being right there with the whole altercation, I can definitely understand how it might look like I did participate, but I never touched the victim," Martinez told Rangel.

Martinez apologized to Whitehead's family and friends and said he accepted responsibility for his participation in the night's events.

"I take full responsibility," he said. "I realize that through my poor decision ... somebody lost their life."

Rangel sentenced Martinez to 15 years in prison as part of a plea bargain and gave him credit for three years he has been in jail awaiting trial.

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