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Ex-New Mexico sheriff’s deputy facing federal charges in sex assault of driver after crash

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — An ex-county sheriff’s deputy in New Mexico is facing federal criminal charges that could put him in prison for life in the sexual assault of a driver he handcuffed and put in his patrol vehicle following a vehicle crash in April.

Michael Andrew Martinez is a former Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy, the FBI and U.S. attorney’s officials said in a news release Thursday about a criminal complaint filed Tuesday. He’s charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and obstruction of justice.

An affidavit provided in the court record alleges that Martinez detained the woman on suspicion of driving while intoxicated after the car she was driving crashed into a tree April 30; that he sexually assaulted the woman in the passenger compartment of the police vehicle; and that he later reported a patrol car interior video recording system had been damaged during a vehicle break-in.

Martinez, 33, of Las Cruces, made an initial appearance before a U.S. District Court magistrate judge in Las Cruces who scheduled a preliminary hearing of evidence on Tuesday. The U.S. attorney’s office said Martinez could face up to life in prison if he is convicted.

Telephone and email messages for Martinez’s deputy federal public defender, Daniel Noah Rubin, and a defense attorney listed in the court record, Jess Lilley, were not returned.

On Friday, Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart publicly apologized on behalf of her department, calling a violation of the public trust “the biggest crime of all of this.”

Alexander M.M. Uballez, U.S. attorney for New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, special agent in charge of the FBI Albuquerque office, noted that Martinez was previously employed by the New Mexico State Police and the police department in Hatch, New Mexico.

In a police report, Martinez said he took the woman to the sheriff’s office, the hospital, and the Doña Ana County Detention Center, according to the court record.

A sheriff’s office investigation of the vehicle burglary that Martinez reported led to the recovery of video showing Martinez touching the woman as she sat seat-belted in the patrol car passenger compartment, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.

Article Topic Follows: AP New Mexico

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