Tulare County man confesses to 30 murders

Published 04/08 2014 06:47PM

Updated 04/08 2014 06:57PM

TULARE COUNTY, CA --A Tulare County man tells authorities he's a long-time hit man for a Mexican drug cartel and his alleged 30-year criminal career includes nine murders in California, two in Kern County.

Tuesday morning, the Tulare County District Attorney's Office filed charges against Jose Manuel Martinez.

Detectives said Martinez admitted to 30 murders, but was finally caught, because his last murder was personal.

Martinez is from Richgrove in Tulare County, but lived for a time in McFarland. Detectives say Martinez claimed his first kill was when he was 16-years-old.

"It's how he fed his family," said Marion County Sheriff's detective T.J. Watts, who's investigating Martinez for homicides in Florida.

"And if he didn't do the job, someone else would do it."

Tulare District Attorney Tim Ward said Martinez is a suspect in the February 15, 2007 murder of Jose Alvarado, who was found shot multiple times on a dirt road outside of McFarland. Martinez is also a suspect in the shooting death of Ron Bautista on March 23, 2009, who was found in an orange grove south of Elmo Highway.

"Late 2012, we experienced a series of home invasions around Tulare County," said Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

"While investigating the home invasions, we contacted Jose Manuel Martinez during a probation search. Although not a suspect in the home invasions, he was at the home of the search and contacted by officers at the scene."

Authorities said the career killer was finally caught in June 2013. Martinez is accused of killing an Alabama man for calling Martinez's daughter a bad mother. Martinez was picked up at the Mexican border in Arizona and sent back to Alabama, where he remains behind bars.

During interrogation in Alabama, Martinez admitted to more than 30 murders. Sheriff Boudreaux said Alabama authorities contacted his office and Tulare County detectives flew out to interview Martinez three times.

Martinez is facing nine homicide and one attempted murder charge in California.

"In addition to the nine counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, defendant Jose Martinez is charged with special circumstance allegations that include multiple murders, lying in wait, kidnapping, and murder for financial gain," said Tulare District Attorney Tim Ward.

"These allegations make the defendant eligible for the death penalty."

Martinez must first go to trial in Alabama, which is scheduled to begin in June.

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