Native Tucsonan Angel Martinez was a young man with a bright smile and plans for an even brighter future, his sister said – but all light was snuffed out when the 20-year-old was fatally shot in front of the Candy Store Show Club last year.

Angel Martinez/submitted photo

Although nearly 13 months have passed since his Oct. 28, 2009, murder, his sister Melissa Carrasco, other family members and friends are bent on a twofold mission.

They are determined to keep his memory alive – and they are equally as determined to get his killer behind bars.

The first part of their mission continues Sunday, Nov. 21, with a memorial march for Angel Martinez from 10 a.m. to noon. The march starts in front of the Candy Store, 1104 S. Craycroft Rd, and ends in Reid Park. Other events in his honor have included last month’s successful basketball tournament.

“We want to show the community that Angel was a caring person who touched many of us in different ways,” Carrasco said of her brother, known for his “huge bear hugs” and “great big smile with cute dimples.”

The second part of their mission is a bit trickier.

Although the suspected shooter, Cliffton Martinez, was arrested mere hours after Angel was fatally wounded, the case was thrown out when a key witness faltered and said he could no longer identify Cliffton as the main shooter, Carrasco said.

Case dismissed.

Looking over Cliffton’s criminal record, which includes a two-year prison sentence for a weapons misconduct charge, one sees several dismissals.

Cliffton Martinez/AZ Dept of Corrections photo

While the Arizona Department of Corrections noted Cliffton did not squeak by without serving some prison time until his Nov. 2008 release, he managed to slide through several charges with a paltry penalty or none at all.

To be fair, the Arizona Judicial Branch website does reveal a few guilty charges, including one with jail time, for his consistent underage consumption of alcohol and equally consistent habit of having liquor in a vehicle.

But other charges blew away with the wind.

No valid license. Failure to show valid license or identification. Liquor in vehicle. Another liquor in vehicle. Underage alcohol consumption. Improper light on license plate.

Dismissed, dismissed, dismissed.

An April 2009 traffic stop, where he ended up with five citations including speeding, not having a valid license and failure to stop on a peace officer’s command, resulted in a few fines.

Even though some of the charges are minor, like improper light on a license plate, the guy seems adept at skimming through the system. Perhaps it’s not a surprise he shimmied through once again, even on a first-degree murder charge.

Although Cliffton was in jail for nearly a year after Angel’s death, he was set free just before the trial.

“Since then, our family has teamed up with 88-CRIME and we have posted flyer’s around town in hopes to have someone come forward with more detailed information regarding the night he was murdered,” Carrasco said.

The initial Tucson Police Department news release said Angel had been inside the Candy Store speaking with two men and, when he went to leave, he was confronted by several other men who had also been inside the club. Police believe the suspects are active gang members and gang unit detectives joined the investigation.

Angel, who was one of six kids, was always someone people could count on, his sister added, whether it be his family, friends, teachers or employers.

As a junior in Tucson High School he worked for El Rio Community Center.

“He instantly found a love for his job as a referee in sports and then later as a recreational worker for the young KIDCO children that attended,” his sister said, adding he was into basketball himself. “He was a great role model and a mentor to them.”

After graduating high school in 2008, Angel enrolled in Pima Community College where he was aiming to major in engineering. But he also had a creative side.

“He enjoyed…all aspects of music including making his own music as an upcoming and inspiring artist,” Carrasco said. “He was also inspired to one day open up a clothing line with many sketches and designs left behind that our family hopes to one day fulfill for him.”

“He was a genuine and sincere young man that was always trying to help others in need in one way or another.

“We are to determined to seek justice for my brother’s death and will not stop searching for ways till justice is served.”


What do you think?

Are too many cases dismissed, dismissed, dismissed?

Have you ever had a case dismissed?

Did you know Angel Martinez? Please comment below.