Deaf Mute Illegal Alien May Get Away With Rape And Murder Of Teenage Girl

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — A court hearing is scheduled next month to determine whether a deaf, mute and illiterate man is competent to stand trial on a capital murder charge for the slaying of a teenage girl.

Oswaldo Martinez, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, was indicted in May on charges of raping and killing Brittany Binger, who was 16.

In February, police arrested Martinez, 34, after police learned that DNA from the semen on Binger’s body matched DNA swabbed from Martinez’s cheek. Authorities think the attack happened one day after New Year’s Day.

Martinez’s DNA was found under the teenager’s fingernails, apparently from fending off an attack, police have said.

James City Police Maj. Stan Stout said evidence shows Martinez grabbed Brittany from behind, covering her mouth with one hand while cutting off her air supply with the other. Then he sexually assaulted her, left her for dead and walked off with some of her valuables, Stout said.

Beau Webb, one of Martinez’s defense attorneys, said he thinks a trial is out of the question for at least a few years because of his client’s inability to communicate and assist in his defense, as required by law.

“We’re dealing with a guy who doesn’t have any base of linguistics. He doesn’t have a grammar system — it’s like teaching a baby,” Webb told the Daily Press of Newport News.

University of Virginia School of Law professor Anne Coughlin said a judge presiding over a capital murder trial for Martinez would have a difficult job balancing the community’s right to have justice served with Martinez’s right to due process.

Brittany Binger was found dead on January 3.

binger”We lock people up, but we tell them why,” Coughlin said. “He doesn’t know what’s going to happen to him or when.”

Martinez’s right to a fair trial requires communication ability beyond his being able to say when or where something happened, Coughlin said. He must be capable of understanding the advantages and disadvantages of entering a guilty plea, for example.

Martinez, who lacks formal sign language skills, is being held at Central State Hospital. Webb said he is hopeful Martinez will be sent to Western State Hospital, where he can get intensive daily sign language instruction.

Under state law, capital murder defendants who are judged incompetent to stand trial remain institutionalized undergoing treatment for their condition. If it appears competency can’t be restored soon, hearings continue every six months to assess the defendant’s competency level and whether the treatment they’re receiving is adequate.

A court hearing on Martinez’s competency is scheduled Aug. 9 in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

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