A career criminal with a violent past made his first appearance Thursday in a Woodland courtroom accused of shooting of a 13-year-old West Sacramento girl now fighting for her life.
Sonny Rudy Martinez, 39, of Stockton pleaded not guilty in Yolo Superior Court to attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling and an assortment of enhancements connected to the Saturday shooting, before Court Commissioner J. Kent O’Mara.
Martinez is to appear in court for hearings Nov. 9 and Nov. 13. He is being held without bail in Yolo County jail.
Miles away in a hospital bed at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento lay the girl, critically wounded, as her family, which gathered at the Yolo County Courthouse for the afternoon hearing, headed back to her bedside.
“She’s critical, she’s real critical. She’s in a coma,” said Bianca Valadez, the girl’s older sister, outside the courthouse after the Thursday afternoon hearing. Valadez – with the sisters’ grandmother, Hope Penunuri, at her side – told reporters in a voice raw with emotion that Martinez “took a piece of our heart that day.”
“I want him to see her face, the little girl he almost took from us,” Valadez said.
The girl was watching movies Saturday night with her grandmother at their home on West Sacramento’s Solano Street, in a neighborhood Penunuri, 64, said she has called home her entire life.
“The last time I talked to her was five minutes before this happened,” Penunuri said. Penunuri was turning in for the night. From her bedroom, she said she heard a popping noise, then rushed back to the living room to ask if her granddaughter had heard the sound only to find the girl bleeding and slumped on the couch.
“I see her lying there on the couch,” Penunuri said, holding back tears. “I want to talk to her again.”
Martinez’s criminal past was laid out in a six-page criminal complaint: a count enhancement alleging criminal gang activity, a second for an unspecified federal felony conviction in March 2007; and a third violent felony enhancement for a 1994 conviction for kidnapping in Sacramento Superior Court.
Yolo County prosecutors are also pursuing great bodily injury enhancements against Martinez alleging injuries “causing the victim to become comatose or suffer paralysis of a permanent nature.”
“She has barely lived, she’s a baby. She hasn’t even experienced life, hasn’t been to her first dance,” Valadez said of her younger sister. “I want the guy to know we’re fighting for her. We’re not giving up on her.”