Attorneys for a man accused of killing an individual in a drive-by shooting on Fry Boulevard said they’re working on a “universal plea” in the case, which was deemed a complex matter last year.
On Monday, defense attorney Marc Victor asked Cochise County Superior Court Judge Laura Cardinal for another 60 days so that they could work on a plea deal to present to the prosecution.
A universal plea is a plea that’s offered in an effort to settle all the cases lodged against a defendant.
A complex case meanwhile, according to the Arizona Court of Appeals, “is a case so complicated by virtue of its nature or because of the evidence required, that the ordinary limits for the time to trial are insufficient and must be extended to afford more time to prepare so that the case can be fairly and fully presented.”
The suspect in the case, 21-year-old Rick Martin, is charged with first degree murder, among other offenses, in the killing of 18-year-old Jorge Portillo on Sept. 28, 2020. Sierra Vista Police said Martin shot Portillo in the head as Portillo was driving east on Fry Boulevard.
Martin, investigators said, drove up alongside Portillo and fired at him from his driver’s seat. Both Martin and Portillo had passengers with them, police said. Portillo lost control of his vehicle and slid into a wash on the south side of the roadway.
Investigators said Martin sped off, but later surrendered to police.
The case has been continued a handful of times because the defense had several experts weigh in on the case.
But on Monday, Victor said they are working on crafting a universal plea.
Martin is being held at the Cochise County Jail without bond because of this offense and his criminal history.
At a hearing in October, Sierra Vista Detective John Andela testified he has been dealing with Martin since the suspect was a minor. He said Martin’s juvenile record includes assault, disorderly conduct and shoplifting.
Andela said Martin was on the other side of a different drive-by shooting on May 15, 2020, in Sierra Vista. The shooter in that case, Joseph Ahrens, has pleaded guilty and is serving a 15-year sentence in an Arizona prison.
Regarding the earlier incident, the detective said Martin, his girlfriend, and another man went to buy marijuana from Ahrens the night of that shooting and got into an argument. Ahrens chased them off the property, then pursued them in a vehicle, shooting 10 times at the car Martin was riding in.
The shooting erupted at Seventh Street and Busby Drive and a handful of stray bullets struck two mobile homes at a residential park at the intersection, Sierra Vista Police said. There were children in both those residences. Ahrens was sentenced on Oct. 16.
Andela also revealed Martin is on federal probation for human smuggling. The detective said that in the last two years, there have been five to eight drive-by shootings in Sierra Vista and that several of the battles are linked to illegal smuggling of people into this country.
The conflict between Martin and Portillo had nothing to do with human smuggling, however. The pair had been in a physical fight in August 2020, after Portillo’s girlfriend had struck Martin’s mother’s car in front of Martin’s house, Andela said.
Cardinal set another hearing on Martin’s case for late September to determine if a plea agreement has been reached between the prosecution and the defense.