Trial date set in controversial murder case involving UTSA graduate student

Miguel Martinez's 2017 trial ended in mistrial

By Paul Venema - Reporter, Misael Gomez - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A murder case that led to a firestorm of controversy and a bitter feud between the former and current district attorneys is headed back to court.

The murder trial of Miguel Martinez, 30, ended in a mistrial in February 2017 and a new trial was ordered. He is accused of shooting Laura Carter, a UTSA graduate student, to death in 2015 during a meeting prosecutors say was set up to invest in a heroin deal.

During a hearing Tuesday to consider pretrial motions in Martinez’ new trial, his lawyers asked that a statement he gave to police prior to his arrest be suppressed.

Senior Judge W.C. Kirkendall said that he would take the request under advisement and rule at a later date.

Kirkendall denied a defense motion to have a special prosecutor assigned to the case.

The case is being tried by special prosecutor Jason Goss, who participated in the first trial as a member of former District Attorney Nicholas “Nico” La Hood’s staff.

“Anytime there is four and a half years, there’s always challenges,” Goss said Tuesday. “This one has been particularly challenging because of the prosecutorial history.”

Several heated conferences in the judge’s chambers followed the mistrial ruling between La Hood and current District Attorney Joe Gonzales, who was Martinez's defense attorney at the time of trial.

The conferences included allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Though they dismissed allegations that La Hood made threats against Gonzales, the Texas Bar Association’s grievance committee issued a probated one-year suspension of La Hood’s law license, ruling that he committed "professional misconduct."

“I don’t feel distracted,” said Goss, who is now in private practice with La Hood. “We were ready to try the case back in February of 2017, and I still have everything ready to go.”

Kirkendall set Aug. 5 as a trial date for Martinez's new trial.

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