The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that Jose Martinez, now 61, will have to wait until 2025 to re-apply for parole for the life sentence he got for raping a BU student in Brookline, when he was just 16.
In its ruling, the state's highest court emphasized it was not reviewing the details of a 2020 decision by the state Parole Board to keep Jose Martinez behind bars, because that would be a violation of separation of powers under the state constitution. Instead, it said it had only to determine whether the board had taken into account the fact that Martinez committed the crime when he was a juvenile, under its 2013 ruling that teens sentenced to life get a mandatory review of their sentences that take into account their young age - and incomplete development of their brains.
The court concluded the Parole Board had taken this into account in its own ruling and so that ruling, which says he is next eligible for parole consideration in 2025, stands.
According to the court summary of the case, Martinez followed the BU student from a Brookline Green Line stop (Brookline Hills) on Sept. 27, 1976, pretended to ask for directions, then held a broken bottle to her neck, forced her into a nearby backyard, threw her to the ground, put his jacket over her head and raped her. He was convicted, but the SJC overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial because of what it considered an error in the judge's charge to the jury. Before that could happen, and while he was on bail, he fled to California, took a new name, sexually attacked two more women, was arrested and served time, before being released on parole there - which led to his return to Massachusetts when his parole officer was notified his fingerprints matched that of the Brookline suspect. He was tried again and convicted in 1987 - and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
In 2020, in his fourth parole request, Martinez apologized to the victim and said that "as a juvenile, he lived his life with little regard for the consequences of his actions," in part because of a bad upbringing, in part because had begun drinking when he was 12. In prison, he has completed a sex offender treatment program and was a regular at Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, worked in the prison clothing shop and become a practicing Buddhist.
But the board found that despite all that, and the passage of time, Martinez was not yet ready for release:
[The plaintiff] has a history of sexual assault cases. Most notably, he committed this brutal rape of a stranger and then committed two serious sexual assaults while on bail. He has completed SOTP (Sex Offender Treatment Program), but only after several failures over the decades. He has made progress in his rehabilitation, but has yet to demonstrate a level of rehabilitative progress that would make his release compatible with the welfare of society.