Keys politician denies domestic violence allegations

Monroe County Commissioner Eddie Martinez

Monroe County Commissioner Eddie Martinez

The Florida Keys politician arrested this week in Hialeah for domestic violence denies allegations by his wife and children that he mistreated them, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

“All I’m going to say is this is just a charge,” Monroe County Commissioner Eddie Martinez said in a text to the citizen of key west.

Meanwhile, the majority of his colleagues on the platform, all Republicans, have told the Miami Herald they believe he should step down.

“Personally, I think he should resign. He needs time to get his life in order. And the stress of the public service is not increasing its ability to accomplish that right now, ”said Mayor David Rice, whose district includes the town of Marathon in the Middle Keys.

Calls to oust Martinez following his arrest are the latest in the opaque history of a little-known Republican candidate who barely campaigned but managed to narrowly defeat the famous Democratic incumbent representing Key West, the only solidly blue district in the Keys. Martinez’s opponent in the November race, Heather Carruthers, has an ongoing lawsuit against him, arguing that he has never lived in the district he now represents.

In a February deposition in the case, his daughter-in-law said Martinez and his wife, his mother, lived in Key Largo – about 90 miles north of Key West – until he won the election.

“It was clear to my fiance and I that Eddie had no plans to move to Key West during the campaign because he didn’t think he was going to win,” Natalie Guerra said during the testimony. “There was no packaging beforehand. They didn’t start looking for a place to live in Key West until after the election.

Martinez was arrested Tuesday at a house in Hialeah and jailed on $ 1,500 bail. It was published Wednesday evening after posting a bond, according to WPLG Local 10. As he walked towards a vehicle, Martinez told a reporter he did not hit his wife.

When asked if he would resign, he replied, “No. “

In court records, Martinez said that in February 2020, he moved from a rental in Key Haven, about a mile from the island of Key West, to a space on Truman Avenue in Key West, where he stayed in. the rear apartment at the back of what was his office at the time.

He said his wife moved from this house in Key Haven to Key Largo while their daughters went to stay with their grandmother in Hialeah, where Martinez is from.

The Truman Avenue building was listed on Martinez’s campaign fundraising forms as his address throughout the campaign. On November 5, 2020 – two days after the election – he said he moved into a condo on Simonton Street in Key West.

In the Simonton Street apartment building on Friday, lawyer Richard Klitenick, owner of the apartments under where Martinez said he lived, said he saw Martinez move into the upstairs apartment shortly after the election. 2020.

But Klitenick said Martinez hadn’t been there for “months and months” and the condo has been rented out several times since.

The owner of the condo is listed in the records of the Monroe County Real Estate Appraiser as Gary the Carpenter Construction, which is owned by Gary Burchfield.

Burchfield could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Hialeah police stopped Martinez after responding to a 911 call regarding a man with “very violent at home” post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the report.

His wife, Maria Martinez, said her husband threw an empty pill bottle in her face during a rage and that this was only her latest incident of domestic violence.

She said her husband had been struggling with the abuse of prescription pain relievers for some time and when he ran out of pills he “became extremely violent,” police said.

Martinez told the Citizen he did not tell police he had a problem with prescription pain relievers, contradicting the arrest report which said he told officers he was struggling with the pills.

Martinez, 46, did not respond to text messages from Herald. But the citizen reported that he was planning to attend a county commission Meet Set for 9 a.m. on December 8 at the Murray E. Nelson Government Center in Key Largo.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office is aware of the arrest, his press secretary Christina Pushaw said on Thursday.

“The governor’s office is aware of the arrest and our legal team is reviewing the information available,” Pushaw wrote in an email. “Under Florida law and our constitution, the governor has the power to suspend elected officials who are accused of crimes. It is neither automatic nor immediate. The governor can use his discretion and make that decision after considering the facts of the case. “

In other cases where local officials have been charged with crimes, the governor has ordered the suspension after reviewing the facts, Pushaw said.

She gave a recent example of a city of Destin adviser suspended by order of the governor on November 4, after having been charged in October with assault and battery on a police officer. Prebble Ramswell was also charged with official misconduct, another felony.

Martinez’s wife told police she “had been dealing with domestic violence for years but had not reported the incidents, hoping he would stop using prescription drugs,” according to the report. arrest.

In a text for the Citizen, Eddie Martinez said he did not need drug treatment, “because I only take what my doctor prescribes. That’s it. No more no less.”

He texted “What really happens is a woman’s contempt[ed] that’s not stupid, ”the Citizen reported. “And I’ll stop there. The truth will eventually come to light.

Martinez ran unsuccessfully to be the Key Largo representative for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District Board of Directors in 2014 and for the Key Largo Wastewater District Board of Directors in 2016.

He won his first election in November 2020 to represent part of Key West, beating incumbent Carruthers in a race so close it required a mandatory recount.

Carruthers questioned Martinez’s residence after the election and filed a lawsuit calling for his impeachment and reinstallation as commissioner.

Carruthers said on Friday she has known since before the 2020 election that Martinez “cannot adequately represent the people of District 3 because he is not a committed resident or responsible member of the Keys community.”

“The current allegations of drug abuse and domestic violence have only strengthened my beliefs,” Carruthers said.

Two of the couple’s daughters said they saw Martinez throw the pill bottle that hit their mother’s face, Hialeah police reported.

The 13-year-old said her father had thrown her “like a baseball” and went into hiding in a bathroom to call 911.

She also said Martinez struggles with prescription drug abuse and regularly becomes violent, having physically and emotionally abused her and her sisters in the past.

After his arrest, Martinez denied hitting his wife “but refused to say his daughters were lying,” according to the report.

All but one of Martinez’s four colleagues on the Monroe County Council of Commissioners said on Friday it was time for him to step down.

“You have to be 100% aware of what you are doing anytime and anywhere, and obviously he is not able to do it due to his medical condition,” said Commissioner Michelle Coldiron, who represents the Lower Keys. , noted. She added that she was ready to ask DeSantis to step in if Martinez didn’t resign.

The latest commissioner, Holly Raschein, who was appointed by DeSantis to represent the Upper Keys following the death of then-commissioner Mike Forster, said on Friday Martinez should step down for the sake of his health and good -being of his family. .

“As a new colleague of Commissioner Martinez, I am saddened and deeply disturbed by these recent events. As a woman, mother and former lawmaker who sponsored and passed legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, I take these criminal charges very seriously, ”Raschein, a former state official, said in a text at Miami Herald.

“I believe that those who do this lose their right to public trust,” she said. “There’s no place for that in Hialeah – or in County Monroe. I sincerely hope that Commissioner Martinez will take the appropriate steps to prioritize his recovery and protect his wife and the others in his life. I will pray for them.

Only Pro Tem Mayor Craig Cates, who represents Key West County’s other district, was unwilling to call on Martinez to step down.

“I know it’s difficult. I know he wants to serve, but what’s best for him and his family is up to him, ”said Cates.

This story was originally published 3 December 2021 5:28 pm.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was on staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune who, in 2005, won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.

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