By STEVEN COOK
SCHENECTADY — Emmanuel Martinez shot and killed one man and tried to kill another last Labor Day weekend because Martinez was embarrassed in front of his friends, a prosecutor told a Schenectady County Court jury Tuesday.
About 90 minutes before the shooting, prosecutor Peter Willis said, the eventual victim, Jose “Mickey” Torres, walked up to Martinez on Albany Street and punched him in the face over a recent dispute.
“It wasn’t a knock-down, drag-out battle,” Willis said. “It lasted 10 to 15 seconds at most.”
But Martinez was left embarrassed. He got his gun, called a cab, went to Torres’ house and opened fire on Torres at a party there, Willis said. Torres was killed, and his brother Luis Gomez was grazed in the neck.
“That’s why he did it. That’s why he walked down that driveway and pulled the trigger,” Willis said.
Martinez, of Schenectady, is standing trial on one count each of second-degree murder and attempted murder, as well as other charges. He faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted of both shootings.
Martinez’ attorney, Cheryl Coleman, in her opening statement questioned everything about Willis’ account. She began by pointing out Willis told the account as though he was there, though he wasn’t.
Coleman said she doesn’t know what happened, because she wasn’t there, either.
“At the end of this case, neither will you know with the certainty it takes to convict a man of murder and attempted murder,” Coleman said.
She said forensic evidence will point away from her client. It will also make the expected testimony of witnesses incredible, she said.
She also said her client protested his innocence from the beginning, a comment that drew an immediate objection from Willis. Judge Richard Giardino ultimately ordered the comment stricken from the record after a brief sidebar.
In the end, though, Coleman said, the case will be “filled with reasonable doubt.” The gathering at Torres’ house was not a birthday party, she said. It was “a party by gang members for gang members.”
Willis appeared to anticipate Coleman’s approach, telling the jury it’s not OK to shoot someone with a criminal history. Gomez, he said, had just gotten out of jail.
Willis said that when Martinez arrived outside the party, he crouched by two cars linked to Torres and punctured their tires. Martinez then turned to the party, walking past children in the driveway before opening fire, Willis said.
“This never had to happen,” Willis said. “There’s no long, sordid back story. No deep seated feud. … There was a man who was embarrassed in front of his friends.”
The trial is expected to last between two and three weeks.
This story originally appeared in The Daily Gazette.