Genetic technology reveals suspect in 12 year old case

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Courtesy Photo.

An Oregon man has been charged with the cold case homicide of Scott Martinez, who was stabbed to death in his La Mesa apartment 12 years ago.

La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez announced Jan. 24 that DNA from bloodstains at Martinez’s home matched the DNA from Zachary Bunney, 39, who apparently cut himself and bled during the attack.

Bunney will be arraigned this week after being extradited from Hillsboro, Oregon following his Jan. 10 arrest. At a news conference, Vasquez said Bunney was identified as the killer via genetic genealogy technology as one of his relative’s DNA profile was in a public repository.

Bunney was a 26-year-old La Mesa resident at the time when Martinez, 47, was killed on June 17, 2006. A motive was not discussed.

“The fact that (police) never gave up means the world to me,” said Angie Martinez, the victim’s daughter.

Man who stormed school bus with knife to submit to drug treament program, grief and parent counseling

A man who stormed onto a Campo Elementary School bus with a knife was sentenced Jan. 22 to one year in jail, but was allowed to serve part of that sentence in a residential drug treatment program.

Matthew Douglas Barker, 37, has admitted to using methamphetamine several hours before the bizarre May 25 incident at 8:31 a.m. at a Campo apartment complex.

The only person hurt was the bus driver, Harold Brandt, 78, who was punched in the face by Barker. The 23 children on the bus got out by the bus emergency exit in the back and were not harmed.

“That man was a hero,” said El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador about the bus driver, who is back on the job.

Amador said he watched the bus camera video of the incident and he saw Brandt “put his own life in danger” to protect the children on the bus.

Amador said Barker was moving slowly – “Frankenstein-like” – in the video. A grandmother jumped on Barker and helped subdue him after Barker stabbed an empty seat on the bus.

Barker, of Campo, was delusional and shouted he was afraid a drug cartel was going to injure his children on the bus, said the judge.

“He recognizes he was out of it (due to) excessive use of drugs,” said Amador. “His mind is clear now and shows he’s ready for treatment.”

“You’ll have to stay on the straight and narrow,” said Amador to Barker. “There was not sufficient mental health intervention.”

The judge suspended a 6-year prison term and said Barker won’t have to serve it unless he violates terms of four years’ probation. He ordered Barker to attend a parenting course and a long-term grief counseling session.

The mother of his two children, Melissa Martinez, died in 2017 of leukemia, leaving Barker the only parent to take care of his two children. The grief counseling should help him, said Amador.

Barker’s parents became the children’s guardians and they will remain taking care of them.

“Because of your use of drugs, you did an incredibly foolish thing,” said Amador to Barker. “A man with a knife on the bus – anything could have happened.”

Barker agreed to waive his jail credits of 234 days.

“I am really grateful for the opportunity to move on with my life,” said Barker, who apologized to all the victims.

“I really can’t imagine what I put them through,” said Barker. “I’m a good man.”

Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast said some of the children received counseling.

“There are some kids who are still scared,” she added.

Barker’s attorney, Dawnella Gilzean, said he had remorse and insight into what led to the incident.

Barker pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to felony assault upon a mass transit employee and a second assault charge. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment.

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