Friday, February 17, 2012

Lealman, FL: Sheriff: Man forced to admit fault in cell phone video before being killed

LEALMAN — The 39-second cell phone video made that morning shows Landy Martinez-Esquivel bound in his bathtub and crying.

It's not Jose's fault, the 21-year-old says in Spanish, according to authorities. It was my fault.

What exactly he's referring to, we don't know.

But an hour later, the same name surfaces in a desperate 911 call.

"Help. Help. They're going to kill me. Help. Please help me. Help me," Martinez-Esquivel yells to a dispatcher. "Jose, no!"

For nearly two hours on the morning of Dec. 21, authorities say Jose Magana Adame, 24, kept Martinez-Esquivel, his ex-boyfriend, a prisoner in his own home in unincorporated Lealman.

Then Adame shot him while he was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Friday.

The shots come in rapid succession, about 50 seconds into the call, amidst a plea for help.

One shot was to the back of his head. The other, through the chest.

"Both wounds were fatal," said Gualtieri.

Authorities tried to triangulate the cell phone call that morning, but were sent to the wrong address.

Adame and Martinez-Esquivel had a long on-again, off-again relationship. They had lived together at 5476 57th Ave. N for about three weeks.

But in the days leading up to the incident, they had been arguing over a vehicle.

On Dec. 13, Martinez-Esquivel called the Sheriff's Office to report that his ex-boyfriend had stolen his vehicle. Adame had apparently taken the vehicle a couple of weeks before, left the state, and had been blowing through red-light cameras and racking up parking tickets, all of which were being sent to Martinez-Esquivel, according to an incident report.

The squabble over the car eventually caused Adame to move out, Gualtieri said.

Those around Martinez-Esquivel were worried for him. One of the home owners, identified as Yadira Guzman, was so worried about Adame coming back to the home that she installed a video surveillance system throughout the house. She monitored the cameras remotely from North Carolina, Gualtieri said.

At about 11:15 a.m. the day of the shooting, she called deputies to tell them that her video surveillance had been cut. She was worried and wanted them to do a welfare check.

Deputies came to the home and found a broken-out window and a door ajar. They found Martinez-Esquivel in a bedroom, dead.

Deputies found remnants of duct tape on his wrists and legs.

After the shooting, Adame fled to Hickory, N.C., where he was arrested on an unrelated burglary, according to authorities. Adame, who is in the country illegally, also was placed on an immigration hold. Adame denied committing the homicide and being in Pinellas County, Gualtieri said.

A Pinellas County grand jury eventually indicted him on the murder charge.

On Friday, he was in jail in Catawba County, N.C., on charges of murder and burglary. He's expected to be returned to Pinellas County within the month.

With Adame's arrest, the Sheriff's Office has made an arrest in each of the 14 homicides in its jurisdiction in 2011, Gaultieri said during a press conference Friday. The Sheriff's Office has cleared 64 of 66 homicides in the past five years.

However, there has been a decline in major crimes in Pinellas, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and major thefts, according to Gualtieri, who became sheriff last November. These crimes have dropped nearly 8 percent since last year to 11,415. Meanwhile, arrests jumped 28 percent for those crimes to 2,801.

"This is very significant against the backdrop of all of the changes in the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in the last several fiscal years," he said. "These have been transformational times for the Sheriff's Office."

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