Efrain Martinez accepted a plea deal in Mesa City Court on Thursday that basically exonerates him from allegations that he shot a gun at former Mesa council candidate JT Ready during an altercation last month.
Martinez, an undocumented Mexican native, pleaded guilty to giving the false name of Eduardo Godina to police. In exchange, Mesa prosecutors dropped assault and threatening and intimidation charges. Martinez received credit for time served and will be deported to Mexico shortly.
During the proceeding, Ready stood up to protest the plea agreement.
“I think this is a travesty of justice,” Ready said. “I’m a victim of this man right here. He carjacked me with a gun, chased me down the street . . . He was caught red-handed.”
“This should be an open and closed case,” he added. “And here I am with a cheesy misdemeanor charge of giving false statements.”
Defense attorney Garrett Smith said it was the first time Ready publicly said he had been carjacked.
Thursday marked the second time prosecutors have offered Martinez a plea deal. Martinez initially declined to plead guilty to the assault and threatening charges in exchange for 20 days in jail with 18 served. Since then, he’s served 42 days — more than double what prosecutors recommended, said John Pombier, the Mesa City Prosecutor.
“We look for win-win situations and it’s very rare in the criminal justice system that you can find them,” Pombier said, noting that it would have been a waste of taxpayer money to proceed with a trial.
“If he had been found not guilty, he still would have served 42 days and he’d be in the same position he’s in now.”
Pombier has no qualms with the way Mesa police conducted the investigation, although Smith believes that police made several errors in judgment.
When police interrogated Martinez and read him his rights, they did so in English, even though Martinez says he cannot speak it well. They also failed to fully question 10 possible eyewitnesses to the shooting, Smith said.
Marvin Woodworth, a private investigator who helped Martinez for free, and Magdalena Schwartz, of Latino Community Services, showed up in court Thursday to support Martinez.
Mesa resident Jim Edgmon attended the trial to support Ready, whom he dubbed a true “patriot.” He said Ready has been unfairly represented in the media.