Bond revoked for San Juan fatal crash suspect over apparent Facebook drug sales

Juan Carlos Martinez

A judge on Friday ordered a 27-year-old San Juan man accused of a fatal crash while he was allegedly under the influence to turn himself in at the jail by Monday after prosecutors revealed evidence that he allegedly was selling and buying drugs on Facebook.

Juan Carlos Martinez is charged with intoxicated manslaughter and intoxication assault with a vehicle over a fatal Feb. 15, 2020, crash that resulted in the death of 53-year-old Sergio Escobedo and serious injuries to his wife, Susanna Escobedo.

The crash happened at approximately 6:42 p.m. in the 500 block of East FM 495 in San Juan when police say Martinez drove his Ford F-150 into oncoming traffic and hit a red Jeep SUV.

The affidavit for his arrest alleges he was under the influence of “duster,” a commonly abused inhalant, and aprazolam, a generic of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax.

After his Feb. 6, 2021, arrest, Martinez’s bonds had initially been set at a total of $350,000.

However, he successfully had his bonds reduced to $85,000. The bonds include an unrelated case of family violence.

He was able to bail out of the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center on May 7, 2021, after being placed on the Alternative Incarceration Program, which is a form of house arrest.

During the Thursday video-conferencing hearing, prosecutor J. Enereo Bazan revealed that an anonymous tipster called the probation office and provided officials with 10 screen shots of an apparent Facebook group dedicated to drug sales and purchases where a profile with Martinez’s picture was posting about the sale and purchase of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine.

In one screen shot, the profile with Martinez’s picture that is named “JC” posts “Pase for sale.”

“Pase” is cocaine.

The rest of the screen shots concern the sale of marijuana or what prosecutors say was a request to purchase marijuana.

Martinez’s attorney, Edelmiro Arredondo III, initially objected to the screen shots, arguing they could have been altered, but state District Judge Fernando Mancias overruled those objections.

Arredondo also brought the matter back up during his closings at the revocation hearing, arguing the anonymous tipster could have altered the screen shots and suggested that his client remain on bond and that Mancias order a GPS monitor.

Mancias declined to do so and ordered Martinez to turn himself in to authorities at the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center by 5 p.m. Monday.

The judge also raised Martinez’s bonds to a total of $110,000.

After the Feb. 15, 2020, fatal crash, a responding officer noted that Martinez was disoriented and investigators found a half-empty 10-ounce can of duster.

Police say Martinez also agreed to speak with them.

“Mr. Martinez advised he was on his way to his friend’s house when he was traveling eastbound on FM 495. Martinez stated he only recalls driving eastbound and then he saw lights ahead of him and the impact occurred. Martinez stated he was not drinking and confessed to Inv. Siguentes that he had inhaled some of the contents of the DUSTER that was inside his vehicle,” the affidavit states.

However, during the Thursday hearing, Bazan, the prosecutor, said that after the crash Martinez denied the “duster” had any impact on him and also said Martinez was under the influence of alcohol, an allegation not contained in the probable cause affidavit.

Bazan also noted during the hearing that Martinez had previously tested positive for drugs and that he was not at home when probation officials had come to visit him.

Martinez has pleaded not guilty to the charges.