It was January 3rd when authorities say they received an anonymous call around 5:20am alerting them to the body in the 9000 block of Pocahontas Trail in the Whispering Pines mobile home park. Police say Binger was so badly beaten they sent dental records to Richmond to help with her identification. Officials say a positive DNA test result led them to 34-year old Oswaldo Elias Martinez. Martinez was arrested Thursday afternoon. He is charged with capitol murder, rape and sodomy.
Martinez's DNA was found under the teenager's fingernails, apparently from fending off an attack, police have said. James City Police Maj. Stan Stout said evidence shows Martinez grabbed Brittany from behind, covering her mouth with one hand while cutting off her air supply with the other. Then he sexually assaulted her, left her for dead and walked off with some of her valuables, Stout said. Beau Webb, one of Martinez's defense attorneys, said he thinks a trial is out of the question for at least a few years because of his client's inability to communicate and assist in his defense, as required by law. "We're dealing with a guy who doesn't have any base of linguistics. He doesn't have a grammar system -- it's like teaching a baby," Webb told the Daily Press of Newport News. University of Virginia School of Law professor Anne Coughlin said a judge presiding over a capital murder trial for Martinez would have a difficult job balancing the community's right to have justice served with Martinez's right to due process.
Martinez, who lacks formal sign language skills, is being held at Central State Hospital. Webb said he is hopeful Martinez will be sent to Western State Hospital, where he can get intensive daily sign language instruction. Under state law, capital murder defendants who are judged incompetent to stand trial remain institutionalized undergoing treatment for their condition. If it appears competency can't be restored soon, hearings continue every six months to assess the defendant's competency level and whether the treatment they're receiving is adequate.
Thirty-five-year-old Oswaldo Martinez, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, is undergoing treatment in Western State Hospital to help him understand the charges. Part of his treatment involves watching the television show "Law and Order," which is interpreted through sign language. Psychologist Barbara Haskins said yesterday in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court that hospital staffers are working on having Martinez "form an opinion about a given character on the show," to help him understand guilt and innocence. Haskins says Martinez is making progress. Haskins said Martinez still doesn't know he could face execution if convicted in the January 2005 slaying of 16-year-old Brittany Binger.
"...Sixteen-year-old Brittany Binger was a sweet girl, but also feisty, say those who knew her." "She enjoyed playfully wrestling with friends and was stronger than she looked, several friends said." "And while she never went looking for a fight, they said, she could really deck someone who crossed her, although she was also quick to try to patch things up afterward." "She was young, full of life and not known to have any enemies..."