November 22, 2019 10:19:54 AM
The mother-in-law of a New Hope man killed more than four years ago has been indicted for murder, months after her daughter pleaded guilty in the same case.
Lydia Martinez, 60, of Colorado, faces a new charge of first-degree murder in the June 24, 2015 death of Manuel Vasquez, according to Lowndes County Circuit Court documents. Martinez was first indicted for accessory after the fact in 2015 after she told authorities and media outlets that her daughter and Vasquez's wife, Christina Martinez, forced her to help dispose of Vasquez's body by threatening Manuel and Christina's three children.
However, the most recent indictment says Lydia Martinez "did unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously, with the deliberate design to effect his death, did kill and murder Manuel Vasquez ..."
District Attorney Scott Colom said new evidence in the case suggests Lydia Martinez was a more "active participant" before the murder occurred and that the first-degree charge means "she had to either aid and abet or actually had to have been the person who killed Manuel."
Lowndes County authorities discovered Vasquez's burned remains on the property of his Windchase Drive home in July 2015, weeks after Christina Martinez reported him missing to Lowndes County Sheriff's Office. Both Lydia and Christina Martinez were arrested for murder, but a grand jury later indicted Christina for first-degree murder and domestic violence-aggravated assault, while Lydia was charged only with accessory after the fact.
However, attorneys in the case said several months ago that there is new evidence suggesting multiple people played a role in Vasquez's murder, and that Christina Martinez had begun cooperating with the investigation.
Christina Martinez pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in September and is scheduled to be sentenced in February.
Colom did not elaborate further on the new evidence that has been presented to the grand jury but did tell The Dispatch authorities do not expect further indictments in the case at this time.