Cops and Courts, Latest News

Guilty with no mercy

KINGWOOD — The trial for Luis Martinez-Otero, 54, of Terra Alta ended Thursday with the jury bringing back a guilty verdict of first-degree murder, recommending his sentence be served without mercy. The sentence for first-degree murder without mercy is life in prison without parole.

Martinez-Otero was arrested in May 2022 after shooting Zachary Alan Shrout at his home on Veterans Memorial Highway in Terra Alta. Shrout was found still breathing, but suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. He was flown to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

Following the reading of the guilty verdict, Martinez-Otero and two witnesses took the stand to ask the jury to recommend mercy.

“I am not a bad man,” Martinez-Otero told the jury. “I am a respectable man. I’m sorry for Zack’s family’s loss, but I didn’t do it. I’m not the man you think I am.”

Heidi Falkner, Martinez-Otero’s fiancee, told the jury he is a lovable, passionate person who has children and grandchildren. She said he deserved a second chance.

James Scudder said Martinez-Otero has been his friend since 2012. He said he does not believe Martinez deserves to be in prison, and that everyone deserves a second chance.

“If you recommend mercy it gives him the opportunity to see the parole board,” J. Tyler Slavey, Martinez-Otero’s attorney said. “We recommend mercy.”

“We ask the jury to find no mercy in this case,” Megan Fields, assistant prosecuting attorney said. She said Martinez-Otero went home, rolled a blunt and was having a good time with Falkner.

A blunt refers to a cigar that’s been emptied of its contents and filled with cannabis.

Fields asked the jury to “show Martinez-Otero the same mercy he showed Zack Shrout” by not giving the parole board the opportunity to give him a second chance.

Circuit Judge Stephen Shaffer ordered a pre-sentence investigation by probation and set sentencing for 3 p.m. May 9.