Crime - Sacto 911

Slow progress frustrates family in West Sacramento girl’s shooting

Alize Valadez, 14, spells out words using a paper alphabet chart while her sister, Bianca Valadez, 23, looks on. The teen was shot October 24, 2015.
Alize Valadez, 14, spells out words using a paper alphabet chart while her sister, Bianca Valadez, 23, looks on. The teen was shot October 24, 2015. rchang@sacbee.com

Hope Penunuri still wonders why someone sprayed her West Sacramento home with bullets one night in October, critically injuring her 14-year-old granddaughter, Alize.

Four months later, there is no answer.

West Sacramento police arrested Sonny Rudy Martinez days after the incident, but he was released from custody because prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence. The chance of refiling charges dwindled last week, when the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office concluded it did not have sufficient evidence to proceed with a case.

Martinez, 39, has an extensive rap sheet that includes gang activity and a 1994 conviction for kidnapping. The Stockton man did not know the victim, Alize Valadez, or her family.

The fact that he’s been released from custody does not mean he’s been released from the investigation. He’s still someone to be considered.

Sgt. Roger Kinney, West Sacramento police spokesman, about Sonny Martinez, a person of interest in the girl’s shooting

“We’ve never seen him before,” Penunuri said Friday. “I don’t know why someone would do this.”

West Sacramento and Yolo County authorities remained tight-lipped about the case Friday, but officials emphasized they want justice for Valadez.

Ryan Couzens, a Yolo County deputy district attorney, said in an email that he could not comment on the evidence that has been gathered but said his office “could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Sgt. Roger Kinney, West Sacramento police spokesman, called the investigation “a very sensitive case,” adding that he has been instructed not to release more details.

Kinney said Martinez remains a “person of interest” for the Police Department.

“The fact that he’s been released from custody does not mean he’s been released from the investigation,” Kinney said. “He’s still someone to be considered.”

Penunuri, 64, is upset that no one has been charged.

Valadez, who was lying on a sofa, was shot in the head in the Oct. 24 incident that left her in a coma for several weeks. She eventually woke up, but cannot walk, talk or swallow.

On Friday afternoon, Valadez was resting on her bed, with her eyes half-open. When Penunuri entered the room and spoke of taking her to Golden Corral, the girl’s eyes instantly lit up.

“I want Golden Corral,” Penunuri said.

Smiling, Alize pointed to herself to show that she wanted to eat at the buffet restaurant, too.

Doctors are unsure of what abilities she will recover. She spends several hours every week working with speech and physical therapists.

Valadez grew up in West Sacramento with her grandmother and older sister Bianca Valadez, 23. The teen played sports in school and loved socializing with friends. Now, she must use a wheelchair and cannot care for herself. She communicates using an iPad that converts text to speech.

“She won’t get that life back,” Penunuri said.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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