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U. STUDENT CHARGED WITH L.A. KILLING

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A University of Utah student has been charged with a homicide that police once credited him with helping to solve.

For two years, California authorities feared for the safety of Duncan Gordon Martinez, 24, who they thought had helped them crack a brutal 1990 murder.But now Martinez has been charged in the homicide, and Los Angeles police are trying to extradite him to face prosecution.

Robert Booker, Martinez's Salt Lake attorney, said his client witnessed the stabbing death of a UCLA student, helped collect evidence and even led Los Angeles detectives to a suspect.

As a result, Nathaniel Blalock, 25, was charged with the June 22, 1990, slaying of Ronald Steven Baker, a 21-year-old astrophysics major found stabbed to death near a Los Angeles railroad tunnel.

Martinez - a former roommate of both the victim and suspect - was afraid he would be charged as accessory to murder for waiting nearly 11/2 years to come forward, Booker said.

Instead, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged Martinez with capital murder. He was arrested here and is being held without bail at the Salt Lake County Jail while California attempts to extradite him.

At a Monday bail hearing, Booker showed up at 3rd Circuit Court with two professors, a former employer of Martinez's, three former roommates, a girlfriend and a half dozen other friends and supporters ready to vouch for Martinez.

Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Jim Housley argued against reducing Martinez's bail because he was "on the run" after the killing. Martinez used a false name to try to get a passport - for which he was convicted in federal court - and has pleaded guilty to a December 1993 building burglary in Utah.

Booker conceded that at one time Martinez did plan to flee. "But after beginning to cooperate with Los Angeles police, he has not wavered."

Martinez arrived in Utah in late 1991, enrolled at the university in September 1992 and has attended school regularly while working.

Judge T. Patrick Casey refused to set bail because of the gravity of the charges. A hearing to review Martinez's fugitive status is set for July 7.

Marcia Clark, the Los Angeles prosecutor handling the Martinez-Blalock case, was busy Monday with the arraignment of O.J. Simpson and was unavailable for comment.