Sacramento mass shooting suspect appears in court

Prosecutors say an alleged gang member fired at least 28 bullets in a mass shooting in California's capital city

Via AP news wire
Saturday 23 April 2022 00:10

An alleged gang member with a “life-time commitment to violence” fired at least 28 bullets earlier this month during a mass shooting in California's capital city that left six people dead, prosecutors said.

Smiley Martin, 27, was one of 12 people injured in the gunfire and has been hospitalized with gunshot wounds since the bloodshed April 3.

Martin, with a bandage on his left arm, appeared in Sacramento Superior Court on Friday on charges of possession of a machine gun and possession of a firearm by a felon. He did not enter a plea during the brief appearance and only nodded when the judge asked to confirm his name.

Police say at least five people fired bullets in the shooting on a crowded intersection in downtown Sacramento. But so far police have only identified four of them: Smiley Martin; his brother, Dandrae Martin; 27-year-old Mtula Payton; and 29-year-old Devazia Turner.

Turner died in the shooting. The Martin brothers are both in jail. Police don't know where Payton is.

While authorities say both Martin brothers fired guns, they have not charged either with murder. Instead, both men face charges about having guns when they weren’t supposed to while Dandrae Martin is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Another court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday for both Smiley and Dandrae Martin. Smiley Martin's attorney, Meghan Cunningham, declined to comment after the hearing.

Smiley Martin is being held without bail. In a 13-page motion filed with the court, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert depicted Martin as a dangerous, unrepentant gang member. Prosecutors point to Martin's prior convictions, which include coercing a woman into prostitution and mercilessly beating her with a belt, leaving a welt on her face.

Martin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for that crime, and while he was incarcerated prosecutors say he “committed battery on another prisoner." Despite the severity of the case against him, state law considered Martin's offense a nonviolent crime and he was released from prison in February after serving less than half of his sentence because he had accumulated enough lockup time credits to go free sooner.

State law says Martin is not allowed to carry a gun. But just two months after his release from prison, prosecutors say Martin posted a video to Instagram where he and others posed with guns, boasted about shooting rival gang members and talked about going to downtown Sacramento to stand outside of nightclubs.

Authorities say he went downtown later that night with a Glock 19 handgun equipped with an extended 30-round magazine, a tactical laser sight and a full-automatic selector switch — a device that transformed the weapon into an illegal machine gun.

Investigators reviewed video from multiple cameras near the intersection in Sacramento, which showed about 80 people on the streets as bars and clubs closed. But just before 2 a.m., something happened that caused people to run away, including a vendor who was so panicked they abandoned their hot dog cart.

As the streets cleared, videos show two groups of men remained, slowly walking toward each other. On one side was Smiley Martin with his brother Dandrae Martin, as well as Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi and an unidentified man. On the other side was Payton, Turner and Sergio Harris. Most of them are affiliated with gangs, prosecutors said.

Minutes later, Johntaya Alexander pulled up and parked her car. Her sister was standing near Harris, and prosecutors say Alexander walked toward the men trying to get her out of there. But she was too late. Seconds later, prosecutors say Turner and Smiley Martin started “exchanging gunfire.” They say Martin fired at least 28 bullets.

Alexander, Harris, Turner and Hoye-Lucchesi were all killed in the shooting, as well as Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21, and Melinda Davis, a 57-year-old woman who had been living on the street.

Investigators found Davis' body a block away from the shooting.

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