Española man Austin Martinez reportedly admitted to Española police nearly three years ago that he printed child pornography in CVS, but he was not charged over the incident until his behavior allegedly escalated late last year.
“I told Mr. Martinez that he was getting a big break and could have easily been arrested for what he had done,” Española Police Department Sgt. George Martinez wrote in 2017. “I stated to him that he could lose his career over acts like this and needed to realize it.”
A federal database tipped off local authorities in December 2019 that Austin Martinez uploaded child pornography to the internet that November.
He was charged for uploading nude pictures of girls believed to be five to 12 years old in early December 2019 and was indicted over the July 2017 CVS incident later that month.
A District Attorney’s Office spokesperson wrote in a statement that they had been unable to make a charging decision without a final report from the Española Police Department.
“Throughout 2019 The (sic) District Attorney’s Office requested Detective Martinez’s final report but did not receive it until December of 2019,” wrote spokesperson Henry Varela of the 2017 case.
In the same report in which Sgt. Martinez wrote he told Austin Martinez he would be charged with a 4th degree felony if he was ever caught doing something like printing child pornography again. He wrote “this case will be forward (sic) to the District Attorney’s office for further review.”
The Española Police Department declined to comment on this story.
After the December 2019 tip, Española Police Det. Ernest Saucedo reportedly found that Austin Martinez had hundreds of non-nude photos of underage girls he knew through his workplace—which is unspecified—and that he gave them numerous gifts, sparking concern from the girls’ parents.
Sgt. Martinez warned the man in 2017 that his actions could jeopardize his career at DeVargas Funeral Home, where an administrator confirmed Tuesday he has not worked “for some time.”
Police records do not indicate any grooming occurred at the funeral home.
Prosecutors wrote that Austin Martinez’s actions were likely close to escalating further.
“Defendant’s behavior is advancing from passive to active,” they wrote. “It is highly likely, based on the facts learned in this investigation, that Defendant was close to creating child pornography has (sic) he not been caught by law enforcement.”
He reportedly freely admitted to possessing child pornography both in 2017 and the more recent investigation. Sgt. Martinez wrote the man brought the photos he was printing at CVS—which depicted young girls at a nude beach—to the Police Department upon request and that he told the sergeant the website where he downloaded them and that he had similar photos on an old phone.
Judge Jason Lidyard denied a request for pretrial detention in December 2019 and gave Austin Martinez conditions of release including bans on using the internet or going to places frequented by children, such as parks or schools.
Martinez, 22, could face up to six years in prison for recently uploading child pornography and up to 18 months for possessing child pornography in 2017. Jury selection for both cases—in which he pleaded not guilty—is set for June 2020.