WOODSTOCK – A town man faces up to 10 years in prison for pointing a gun at his brother and threatening to kill him during an altercation in 2017.
Jose M. Martinez-Rosario, 47, faces sentencing in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on April 20 after Judge Dennis L. Hupp found him guilty of attempted second-degree murder and brandishing a firearm stemming from a June 10 incident involving the defendant’s younger brothers.
Hupp reached his verdict after the nearly 5-hour bench trial in which he heard testimony from Martinez-Rosario’s brothers who gave their account of the incident. Hupp also heard testimony from the defendant whose own account of the incident differed greatly. Martinez-Rosario denied he possessed a firearm or threatened to kill either of his brothers.
Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola presented no physical evidence in the case. Police did not recover a firearm or ammunition in the course of the investigation. Campola focused on the testimony of the brothers – Pedro Rosario as the primary victim and their younger brother, Angel Rosario.
The victims testified that Martinez-Rosario became violent after they watched a basketball game on television and at one point pulled out a handgun they said he had loaded with ammunition earlier. Angel Rosario testified that the defendant forced him to kneel on the ground and put the gun barrel first in his mouth and then to his forehead.
Pedro Rosario testified he came out of a bedroom when he heard their younger brother screaming and crying. Pedro Rosario testified that Martinez-Rosario then put the gun to his head and threatened to kill him. Pedro Rosario then recalled that he heard a click when his brother pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire and Martinez-Rosario struck Pedro Rosario with the firearm above his left eye. Pedro Rosario fled the residence, with Angel Rosario opening the door, and ran to find help while screaming outside. None of his neighbors responded, so he bypassed the nearby Shenandoah Memorial Hospital and tried to find help at the Rite-Aid store. Police responded to the store where they met up with Pedro Rosario. Police arrested Martinez-Rosario hours later – enough time for the defendant to get rid of the firearm, Campola said.
Defense attorney Michael Araj tried to undercut Pedro Rosario’s account of the events, pointing to evidence he said showed the victim did not live at Martinez-Rosario’s residence. The defendant testified that Pedro Rosario did not support their younger brother as the victim told the judge earlier.
The defense also tried to shed light on a potential motive for Pedro Martinez to make up his story. An investigator for the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office testified for the defense that he was investigating an incident in which a check made out to Martinez-Rosario was cashed while the defendant was incarcerated after his arrest. The investigator testified that he interviewed Pedro Rosario in relation to his investigation and said he could be a suspect in the case. The investigator testified that he had not yet placed charges in his case. The defendant also testified that he had received a check for roughly $3,500 that he had not cashed prior to his arrest.
Campola discounted the defense’s line of questioning related to the defendant’s check. Hupp made only slight reference to the matter of the check before finding the defendant guilty on both charges.