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City Briefs: 7/11/03

Friday, July 11, 2003

BROOKLINE: Wife waives hearing

Rita Martinez, wife of former city controller employee Gil Martinez, who is awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges, yesterday waived her right to a preliminary hearing on charges that she aided and abetted her husband when he fled before his scheduled trial in January.

Rita Martinez, 58, is charged with two counts of hindering the apprehension of her husband as well as criminal conspiracy. District Justice Charles A. McLaughlin released her on her own recognizance.

Martinez and her defense attorney, Gary Zimmerman, declined comment yesterday.

Gil Martinez, 59, a 30-year city official, is accused of selling cocaine out of his desk in the controller's office, where he was a contracts supervisor. He was scheduled for trial Jan. 6.

However, on Jan. 5, Rita Martinez rented a room for her husband at the Studio Plus Motel in North Fayette where he stayed until Jan. 17, said Sgt. Jack Kearney, the Allegheny County sheriff's deputy who tracked the fugitive.

Mrs. Martinez also hindered Gil Martinez's apprehension by buying prescription drugs for him from a Brookline pharmacy near their home while he was hiding out.

Gil Martinez eventually was arrested June 24 at a Crawford County motel and returned to Pittsburgh.

LINCOLN-LEMINGTON: Murder sentencing

A Highland Park man was sentenced yesterday to 15 to 40 years in prison for killing his girlfriend during a dispute at a home in Lincoln-Lemington in 2001.

Richard T. Morris, 24, pleaded guilty to a general charge of homicide last year in the slaying of Tieusha Wright, 20, of East Liberty.

Wright had been visiting a friend one night in April when she called Morris to ask for a ride home. Morris and two friends joined her at the Schwerner Court home, where they ate and drank beer into the early morning hours, according to testimony yesterday from Tori Pass, who lived at the home.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning, who delivered the sentence yesterday, had ruled in August that the slaying was an act of third-degree murder. The state sentencing guideline for third-degree murder is 20 to 40 years in prison.

Assistant public defender Joseph Paletta argued for leniency for Morris. He acknowledged that Morris has three previous convictions but that all were for nonviolent crimes and were alcohol-related.

Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pelligrini argued that there was nothing redeeming about Morris that would warrant leniency.

Morris has said that he shot Wright in self-defense. He said Wright had attacked him with two kitchen knives.

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