San Benito man accepts deal, sentenced to 40 years in teen’s death

EDINBURG — A San Benito man accused of being involved in the shooting death of a Mission teen will spend the next 40 years in prison.

EDINBURG — A San Benito man accused of being involved in the shooting death of a Mission teen will spend the next 40 years in prison.

Jonathan Alejandro Martinez, 22, accepted the state prosecutor’s plea offer of 40 years in prison hours before jury selection was set to begin in his murder trial, according to court records.

Martinez is one of the people arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of Miguel Angel Alcala, a 17-year-old teen from Mission who died as a result of a gunshot wound he suffered last February.

The other person charged, a now 17-year-old teen, is believed to be the person who pulled the trigger leading to Alcala’s death during a planned drug rip, according to court records.

The proceedings for Martinez are related to an incident on Feb. 15, 2016, when he, his younger brother Johan Martinez, 17, an unidentified 16-year-old teen, and Alcala, drove up in Johan’s vehicle to a residence in the 5200 block of Coyote Circle in rural Mission in an alleged attempt to rob several ounces of marijuana from a known drug dealer, officials said.

Prosecutors believe Alcala, who may have only known the other three through a mutual friend, a gang member known as “Made,” was ordered by Martinez to buy a small amount of marijuana from Felix Rodriguez, 24, of Mission.

Alcala asked Rodriguez for 3 grams of marijuana, and walked the long driveway back to where the group was parked in front of Rodriguez’s residence.

Rodriguez walked up to the vehicle’s door with the agreed upon amount of marijuana, but someone in the group told Rodriguez that they wanted 3 ounces, so Rodriguez walked back inside the residence to retrieve more marijuana, according to prosecutors.

During the time Rodriguez walked back inside the house, prosecutors believe Martinez initiated the planned robbery and ordered Alcala back toward the long driveway leading to Rodriguez’s front door.

But before the 17-year-old Mission resident could make it to the front door, and as Rodriguez is at the same time coming out of his house — making his long walk back toward where the group had parked — the 16-year-old front passenger shot three rounds in Alcala’s direction, striking the teenager once in the back, officials said.

Witnesses said Alcala landed face down in front of Rodriguez and begged for him to not leave, as the 16-year-old in the vehicle fired another three rounds as the group drove off.

Alcala, who didn’t see the shots coming, bled out and died at the scene, officials said.

The 16-year-old alleged shooter, who authorities said was affiliated with the Po Boys, a local street gang from the Pharr, San Juan, Alamo area, is currently awaiting certification to be tried as an adult on the same charge, court staff said.

It is expected that he will be certified within the next month.

At the time officials said it was unclear if Alcala was part of the gang but did confirm the 17-year-old had been arrested about a year prior to his death in connection with the transport of undocumented people.

The 16-year-old teen was arrested days later but it would take investigators about a month to track Martinez, who, along with his brother Johan, fled into Mexico the same day authorities arrested their alleged accomplice, officials said.

About a month later, on April 4, 2016, Martinez and his brother Johan crossed back into the country through Brownsville where they were captured by U.S. Border Patrol Agents, officials said.

U.S. Border Patrol agents after running Martinez’s fingerprints found the outstanding murder warrant and transferred the elder Martinez to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office where he was booked April 6, 2016, according to jail records.

Johan, who did not have a criminal record, and had yet to be implicated in the shooting of Alcala, was released and is still wanted in connection with the murder.

Despite the fact that Martinez was not the shooter, prosecutors believe he was the mastermind behind the robbery attempt and the shooting when he ordered the teen to shoot at Alcala and Rodriguez that night.

Prosecutors, who had initially offered Martinez a plea bargain of 30 years in prison and then 40 years after he declined the initial offer, continued to gather evidence preparing for a trial.

And then, weeks before the trial was set to begin, prosecutors got a big break when they were able to link Martinez to a series of burglaries in Cameron County, one of which was at the home of a Border Patrol agent, officials said.

That agent reported several items stolen, including ammunition, specifically, purple .40 caliber training bullets from one of his handguns, the same purple bullets located at the scene of the shooting, found at Alcala’s home, and also found at Martinez’s girlfriend’s mother’s home.

Then prosecutors, who were given surveillance footage of the burglary at the agent’s home which took place a week before Alcala was shot, captured in the video half of a man’s face, later identified as Martinez.

That was the crucial evidence that helped prosecutors link Martinez to the shooting, and subsequently persuaded Martinez to agree to forego the trial and accept the plea offer.

Martinez’s brother Johan remains wanted in connection with Alcala’s murder.

Anyone with information related to the shooting or the whereabouts of Johan Martinez may call Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office Crime Stoppers at (956) 668-8477.