Jury returns with guilty verdict in Marilyn Pharis murder trial

Posted at 4:44 PM, Jun 27, 2018

A jury in Santa Maria Wednesday found Victor Martinez guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Marilyn Pharis.

The 64-year-old Santa Maria woman was attacked in her home in 2015 and died days later in the hospital.

Martinez’s trial began Monday, May 21. Jurors began deliberations on Tuesday, June 26. They returned with their verdict less than two days later.

The jury also found true special allegations of robbery, burglary, sexual penetration, and use of a deadly weapon (a hammer), but was deadlocked on an additional allegation of torture. Prosecutors moved to have the torture allegation dismissed.

During closing arguments, prosecutors reviewed the evidence presented during the trial, reminding jurors that Pharis was beaten with a hammer, choked multiple times and ended up with a broken neck bone and severe bruising. The defense argued that Pharis’ death was actually the result of gross negligence by hospital staff who failed to catch the blood clot in her leg that ultimately resulted in her death.

Martinez had been arrested six times before the attack on Pharis and also previously deported. It’s unclear how Homeland Security will play a role in his sentencing.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has said they will seek a sentence of life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

Martinez is set to be sentenced on July 2.

Jose Villagomez, who was also charged with Pharis’ murder, changed his plea to guilty last month. He is expected to be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison when he returns to court on July 19.