The Case of Rodrigo Martinez


In September 2005, Rodrigo Martinez of Garden Grove, California, was carrying his girlfriend’s 7-month-old daughter, Diana. He tripped, fell, and twisted his ankle while holding her, but Diana did not appear injured from the fall. The landlady saw Martinez after he had fallen and noticed that he was holding the baby tightly. She reported that the baby did not appear abnormal and was not crying.

Several days later, Martinez woke the landlady and her husband, to tell them that Diana was sick. They called the paramedics and Martinez left to go pick up Diana’s mother, his girlfriend Alma, from work. The two then went to the hospital. The next morning at the hospital Diana died.

After visiting the hospital to see Rodrigo and Alma, the landlord drove Martinez home to “get rid of” something, later reporting that he saw Martinez toss a gun from the car as they were driving back to the hospital. Gutierrez later found the gun and turned it in to law enforcement.

The doctor who performed Diana’s autopsy, Dr. Anthony Juguilon, reported Diana died as a result of blunt trauma and a forceful blow to the head. He testified Diana had a rib fracture and various other brain injuries, some recent and others weeks old at the point of death. Upon hearing that Martinez had tried to get rid a gunl, Dr. Juguilon said Diana’s injuries could have easily been the result of blunt force involving a gun.

Police interviewed Martinez again, and he changed his story several times over the course of the investigation regarding the cause of Diana’s death, leading to an appearance of guilt. 

Martinez’ family members, who were out of the country at the time all this was occurring, hired an attorney they had never met  to represent him at trial. The attorney failed to present any of the expert medical evidence regarding Diana’s actual cause of death and time of injury and Martinez was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. 

Attorney Ferrentino Obtains Exoneration for Rodrigo Martinez

Martinez’s attorney failed to effectively make Martinez’ case, and as a result Martinez was sent to prison.. Martinez appealed his case, this time represented by Attorney Marleigh Kopas, who found Doctor’s reports in the trial attorney’s file which concluded that Diana’s head injured had happened at least 7-10 days before she died, putting Martinez’ guilt in question.

Attorney Correen Ferrentino represented Martinez at his evidentiary hearing in the habeas corpus proceeding and brought in an expert witness to testify that Diana’s injuries were inflicted 7-10 days before her death and that there was no real evidence that she had been hit with a pistol, leading the court to conclude that Martinez’s attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel and he was denied a fair trial.  After a 12-day hearing, Martinez’ conviction was vacated. 

Attorney Ferrentino Represents Martinez at Re-Trial and Secured his Acquittal after Jury Trial, Exonerating him after 9 Years in Prison

But the prosecution retried Martinez for murder.  Ferrentino represented Martinez at rre-trial and presented multiple forensic experts regarding the time and cause of Diana’s fatal injury.  She also presented character evidence about how careful and caring martinez was with Diana.  After three weeks of trial, the jury unanimously voted Not Guilty and Martinez was released from custody after 9 years in prison.  He is now married with a child of his own and visits Ferrentino & Associates when in town. 

Rodrigo Martinez is now a free man and you can learn more about his case by checking out The National Registry of Exonerations.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California

Attorney Ferrentino and our entire team at Ferrentino & Associates are proud to have served Martinez and help him regain his freedom. We are also proud to serve many others like him and we will continue to use our time, talents, and collective experience to help wrongly convicted persons achieve justice. If you or someone you loved has been unfairly tried or unfairly convicted of a crime and subsequently punished, we can help.