PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — A routine bond hearing could result in a new charge for a Texas man who was already facing decades in prison for the death of a four-year-old girl.
Kenneth Martinez, 61, has been in the Bay County Jail since March 30th, when he allegedly ran over and killed a 4-year-old Tennessee girl in a Panama City Beach parking lot. The girl was vacationing here with her family.
Witnesses and authorities said Martinez left the scene and hid in his beach apartment. His attorney, Al Sauline argued for a bond of less than $1 million. He added that Martinez has ties to the community and is not a flight risk.
Martinez told Judge Shonna Gay that he has two homes and could fly back and forth from Texas for local court appearances.
“We are financially capable of doing that,” Martinez added.
But Gay pointed out that Martinez previously filled out a form for a public defender, saying that he had no money, no houses, and no way to pay for a lawyer.
“So I’m just trying to find out if what you are telling me today is correct regarding the financial situation or what you are saying on that paperwork on March 30, 2022 is correct,” she said.
Defendants routinely fill out a form claiming they have no money and want taxpayers to fund their legal fees. When questioned further Martinez doubled down and claimed, under oath, that he had never signed the form.
Prosecutor Peter Overstreet then presented other documents with Martinez’s signature, suggesting Martinez was committing perjury by saying he didn’t sign the form.
It’s unclear if he’ll now face a perjury charge. Even if he did fill out the form Martinez does not have a public defender. He hired a private attorney and is paying his own legal bills.
While asking for a high bond Overstreet again accused Martinez of lying about his actions on the day of the fatal incident. Overstreet says he remains a flight risk, saying Martinez ran from the scene and violated his probation in a previous case.
“We will submit to the court that numerous witnesses witnessed this defendant’s truck run over that child and were screaming and running after him and he just left the scene,” Overstreet said.
Martinez has said he was unaware he had run over the child. During the hearing he said he went home, put on headphones, and took an online training course for his work with the U.S. Department of Defense.
However, when police showed up at his apartment, Overstreet said Martinez told a woman there not to answer the door and then hid in a bathroom for 20 minutes before finally talking to the police.
Judge Gay set the bond at $1.5 million. Bay County Jail officials said Martinez has not yet posted the bond. The next hearing in his case is set for November 10.