Jacob Timothy Martinez says the death of a homosexual man at a Salt Lake park six years ago was an accident - not a hate crime.
The 26-year-old inmate told the Board of Pardons on Friday he was struggling with Gordon Lee Winslow over a handgun when the victim was fatally shot."The media has labeled me a hate criminal," Martinez said to board member Cheryl Hansen. "It's bad enough that I took a life."
Winslow, 46, was sitting in his van at Jordan Park on July 10, 1988, when Martinez, armed with a .22-caliber revolver, and Mario Linn Fraga attempted to rob him.
A struggle ensued, and Winslow was shot twice in the scuffle. He died on the operating table at an area hospital.
In a plea bargain, Martinez agreed to plead guilty to robbing a grocery store two weeks before the murder. In exchange, prosecutors changed the first-degree felony murder charge to manslaughter.
Martinez was sentenced to 1-to-15 years in prison for the killing and up to life for the robbery.
Fraga, 30, pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to 1-to-15 years and probation.
In the presentence report, Martinez told prosecutors he and Fraga went to the park to rob a homosexual, Hansen said. Martinez says it was Fraga who made those comments.
"This wasn't a hate crime," Martinez said. "I didn't kill him in cold blood. I was struggling with Mr. Winslow when the gun went off."
Several of Martinez's relatives expressed similar sentiment.
"We never taught him to hate anyone!" one man yelled at Hansen as she left the room.