514 years for botched, deadly holdup

By The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — A 32-year-old New Orleans man has been sentenced to 514 years in prison for a botched and bloody holdup in 2007.

Anthony Martin testified that his gun went off during a struggle at a house where he had gone to buy marijuana. Prosecutors and witnesses said he was there to sell drugs and started shooting.

Julio Benitez Cruz, of El Salvador, died at a hospital. Three others were wounded. During a fight, Martin lost his shoes and his pants, with ID and a credit card in the pockets.

Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo sentenced Martin last week as a habitual offender, boosting sentences for one count each of manslaughter, aggravated burglary and illegally discharging a firearm during a violent crime, two counts of attempted murder and six of attempted armed robbery, The Times-Picayune (http://bit.ly/QDU0cF) reported.

Martin was arrested in Mississippi. He was convicted Aug. 24 after four mistrials.

Marullo declared the fourth mistrial after defense attorney Jeffrey Smith spotted a police report he’d never seen on the prosecution table.

Prosecutors turned over that report and another. One was about Martin’s arrest and the other about a stolen car. Marullo chastised prosecutors and said he planned to severely penalize prosecutors for future gaffes.

Christopher Bowman, an assistant district attorney and spokesman for Cannizzaro, said the reports were irrelevant. The only reason prosecutors didn’t appeal the ruling was that it would have led to further delays, he said.

Before the mistrial was called, Martin rejected a prosecution offer of a 20-year sentence if he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and numerous other charges.