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A San Jose man whose girlfriend died in a car crash after he tried to escape from police was sentenced today to more than 30 years in prison, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney said. Renan Martinez, 30, a street gang member, received a sentence of 30 years to life plus an additional five years in the second degree murder of Mayra Barajas, 24, who died shortly after the crash, Deputy District Attorney David Boyd said. Superior Court Judge Sharon Chatman handed down the sentence today following Martinez’s conviction for second-degree murder late last year, Boyd said.
Martinez was a “a high-risk parolee and a fugitive” on June 9, 2010, when police officers pulled him over for a minor traffic violation in San Jose with Barajas in the car beside him, Boyd said. As the officers came up to his car, Martinez stepped on the gas, drove over a street median and made a U-turn in an attempt to get away, Boyd said. He reached a speed of 60 mph while approaching an intersection behind a long line of cars waiting at a stoplight, Boyd said. “Sadly, had Mr. Martinez simply looked into his rear view mirror, he would have realized the police were not pursuing him because his driving was too dangerous,” Boyd said.
Martinez passed by the cars, barreled through the intersection and hit a car traveling legally in the street, Boyd said. The impact made his car careen into a light pole and Barajas sustained injuries that proved fatal, Boyd said. The defendant, Boyd said, “placed his own preferences and desire to live a life the way he wanted above human life, whether it be the unsuspecting public or his girlfriend.” Martinez had committed many dangerous driving offenses starting at age 16, including hit and run, reckless driving and failure to stop at a red light, he said. He also served a stretch in prison for driving his car into a pair of people on a bicycle who he thought were rival gang members, Boyd said.
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