By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Theft, elude suspect spared prison sentence

The 39-year-old Stayton man pleaded guilty Monday morning in Yamhill County Circuit Court to one count each of first-degree theft, a Class C felony, and reckless driving and reckless endangering, both Class A misdemeanors.

Judge John Collins sentenced Martinez to 24 months of probation on the theft charge and six months of jail time on each of the misdemeanor charges, to run concurrently. With credit for time served, Martinez has already completed about half the sentence.

He was originally charged with one count each of attempt to elude a police officer and possession of a controlled substance/methamphetmine as well, but those counts were dropped in exchange for guilty pleas on the others.

Deputy District Attorney Ladd Wiles recommended a 18-month prison term on the theft charge, pursuant to Measure 57, which voters approved overwhelmingly in 2008.

Passage of the measure added five months to existing sentences for repeat offenses of automobile theft, burglary, check and credit card fraud, criminal mischief, forgery, identity theft, mail theft, robbery and theft. Among other things, it also made prison time an option after the third conviction instead of the fifth.

Collins ordered Martinez to serve the proposed 18 months if he violates his probation. He also ordered him to undergo drug treatment.

“For more than 10 years, since 2001, he had been clean and sober and had been out of the criminal justice system,” Coran told the court. “He’s been successful.

“He did relapse, but he needs help — something other than a Measure 57 sentence. Shuffling him off to prison makes no sense.”

Co-defendant Michael Trevino, 25, of Woodburn, previously pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree theft. He drew a 20-month prison sentence followed by 12 months of post-prison supervision.

Wiles acknowledged Trevino had a more serious criminal history than Martinez, but argued both deserved prison time.

Newberg-Dundee police gave this account:

About 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, officers responded to a 911 call indicating a Latino male had fled Fred Meyer with an armload of clothing. A witness said he sped off in a silver 1994 Lincoln Town Car.

An officer spotted the car heading south on Hancock Street, near its intersection with Howard. He stopped it just north of Dundee and made contact with the driver, identified as Martinez.

Suddenly Martinez, wearing a shirt with a price tag still attached, threw the car into gear and sped off southbound. He and Trevino were spotted tossing stolen merchandise out the window as they sped south.

They exited Highway 99W and headed west on Highway 18 at speeds of 80 mph or more. The Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office picked up the chase at that point and McMinnville police joined in.

The suspects took the McMinnville exit off Highway 18 and headed onto the Three Mile Lane Bridge. McMinnville officers twice laid down spike strips, which deflated three tires on the second try.

The vehicle finally came to a stop in front of the Jim Doran auto dealership at 1315 N.E. Third St. Martinez was taken into custody immediately and Trevino was subsequently found hiding in backyard bushes in the vicinity of Oregon and Second streets.

During a search of the vehicle, stolen merchandise was recovered, along with drug scales, drug paraphernalia and rounds of ammunition for a .357-caliber magnum. There were unconfirmed reports that Trevino had fired a round during the incident, but no gun was ever found.

In addition to probation and drug treatment, Martinez was ordered to pay $550 in attorney’s fees and $400 in fines, and hit with a 90-day license suspension.

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