Steamboat sexual predator given 50-year prison sentence
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Routt County judge on Friday handed down a 50-year prison sentence to a Steamboat Springs man that District Attorney Brett Barkey described as one of the most insidious child sexual assault predators in recent history.
Diaz-Martinez, who worked in construction, was accused of exchanging drugs for sex with underage girls, and he was originally charged with 41 felonies.
In September, a trial was avoided. The 61-year-old Steamboat man accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to three counts of human trafficking for sexual servitude, five counts of trafficking of minors for sexual servitude and one count of attempted sexual assault.
During that September hearing, Martinez appeared hesitant, and Judge Shelley Hill had to ask him three times whether he was still pleading guilty.
“Well, it seems like I have to plead guilty right now,” Diaz-Martinez said through an interpreter. “I don’t consider myself guilty of all these charges, but at this moment, I am pleading guilty.”
At one point, Diaz-Martinez appeared to have doubts about his chances of being exonerated at a trial.
“I guess the other choice is going to trial, and I have no chance of …,” Diaz-Martinez said before his response was cut off by his attorneys.
Police first began investigating Martinez when officers with the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force came across a lead related to a sex assault.
Steamboat police took over the case, and Detective Sam Silva identified eight more victims in the ensuing months.
“For each victim, the decision to come forward was difficult and scary,” Police Commander Annette Dopplick said in a news release. “It took tremendous courage to put words to Mr. Diaz-Martinez’s heinous actions. It is my hope that today’s sentence adds to each survivor’s sense of resiliency and strength.”
Judge Shelley Hill ordered that Martinez’s 50-year prison sentence be followed by 10 years of probation.
“With this sentence, our nine courageous victims can continue their recovery and healing without fear of ever seeing Mr. Diaz-Martinez again,” Barkey said in a news release. “The incredible bravery these young people showed in coming forward to stop Mr. Diaz-Martinez from continuing to prey on other young people cannot be overstated. They have inspired us all.”
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.
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