Man sentenced in sex assault case

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A Duncansville man accused of sexually assaulting a teenager who was baby-sitting at the home where he lived was sentenced Monday to 13-26 months behind bars.

Felipe Luis Martinez, 32, entered no-contest pleas to corruption of a minor and indecent exposure during a review of criminal cases on the Blair County trial list for April.

Charges of rape, sexual assault, unlawful restraint and harassment against Martinez were dismissed.

Blair County Assistant District Attorney Russell Montgomery said that a plea agreement was struck in which Martinez would serve time in a state correctional institution and be on two years’ probation.

The sentence for Martinez could mean his deportation, according to Montgomery. Martinez is a Mexican national who has been in the Altoona area for the past 14 years working as a landscaper.

Montgomery said he has consulted with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was told if Martinez was sentenced to more than a year behind bars, he “might be deported.”

The incident occurred on July 23, 2013, when a 16-year-old came to a Duncansville home to baby-sit. Martinez was there and was charged with attacking the girl.

One of the issues raised by the defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Edward Ferguson, was that Martinez gave a statement to police without understanding his right to remain silent.

Ferguson contended that Martinez’s command of English was spotty and that he didn’t understand he had a right not to give a statement to police.

Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle previously ruled that testimony during a hearing showed Martinez could understand and speak English, and she refused to suppress statements he made to investigators that admitted he and the girl had contact but denied what took place was an assault.

The prosecutor agreed to drop the most serious offenses in exchange for the no-contest plea.

The victim, who did not attend the sentencing hearing, knew about the agreement, said Montgomery.

“She may not be happy with it, but she didn’t want to go through a trial,” he explained.

Martinez was asked questions through an interpreter to determine if he understood Monday’s court proceedings. He said he did but indicated he did not want to address the judge prior to sentencing.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.