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Victor Martinez sentenced to life in prison without parole for 2015 murder of Marilyn Pharis

–UPDATE 7/30/2018–

Victor Martinez has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole with the special circumstances of burglary, robbery, sexual penetration and use of a deadly weapon. He has been ordered to register as a sex offender in the 2015 murder of Marilyn Pharis.

Martinez has also been ordered to pay restitution to the victim’s fund.

64-year-old Pharis was attacked in her home by Martinez in 2015 and died in the hospital several days later.

The case gained national attention because Martinez is an undocumented immigrant who had previously been arrested.

Powering through the pain, Marilyn Pharis’s family and friends took to the podium at Victor Martinez’s sentencing to share what life has been like since Marilyn has died.

“You have robbed me of the time Marilyn and I would have spent together after she retired. You stole the loving time Marilyn would have spent with her family, grand nieces and nephews,” said Marilyn’s sister, Roseanne VanVoorhis.

Pharis’s life long best friend Patty Holley, says Mariyln had two more years left until her retirement – two more years until they were supposed to begin their plan of living together or at least forever being in the same city together.

Holley says losing Marilyn was like losing a spouse. “I have gone on but sometimes it doesn’t seem right to enjoy life when she isn’t here. However with going on – there was the constant reminder of having to be here for the sentencing.”

Pharis’s family members, some coming from as far away as Rochester, New York were in tears, clutching tissue boxes as the judge read Martinez’s sentencing.

“I honestly feel like having him removed from the streets is the only outcome that was helpful because he has shown a pattern of escalating violence in his history.. so I wouldn’t feel safe with him out on the streets,” William Pharis, Marilyn’s brother said.

While Pharis’s family was emotional, Martinez appeared to show no remorse. That’s no surprise to the prosecution.

“I haven’t seen the defendant react to anything from the beginning from the first day we were in court and we’re here almost exactly three years later; Wednesday is the three year anniversary of Marilyn’s death. I’ve seen no reaction from him at any point,” said Prosecutor Ann Bramsen.

Now that this trial is finally over, Pharis’s family says they’re grateful to the hospitality they’ve received from the Santa Maria community.

“We find they have been just some of the most wonderful people we have run into and I know they were horrified as much as we were about what happened to Marilyn,” said Pharis.

We asked Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley if there was any chance of Martinez being deported since he is undocumented. Dudley said since he is going to be serving a life sentence without parole, they expect he will be staying in prison – unless the laws change and they begin deporting people from custody.

Martinez’s family also appeared in court Monday but they declined to comment.


Victory Aureliano Martinez has been found guilty of murdering Marilyn Pharis on July 24, 2015.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley says Martinez will face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jury found true the special circumstances of felony murder for burglary in the first degree, robbery, and rape by foreign instrument. They also found the special allegation that Martinez personally used a hammer during the assault.

The jury found that on July 24, 2015, Martinez and Jose Villagomez entered the home of Marilyn Pharis while she was sleeping. Martinez woke up Pharis and attempted to sexually assault her. Martinez then began to beat and repeatedly strangle Pharis as she fought back. Pharis died as result of the assault.

“This case was heartbreaking for both Marilyn Pharis’ loved ones and the entire Santa Maria community,” said Dudley. “This extraordinary verdict is the result of relentless hard work and professionalism on the part of the Santa Maria Police Department and Prosecutors Ann Bramsen and Fabiana Fede and their team.”

Martinez will return to Court on July 2, 2018, for sentencing.

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The prosecution and defense wrapped up their closing arguments Tuesday morning in the trial of Victor Martinez.

The defense is actively trying to bring home their narrative that the hospital killed Marilyn Pharis. Attorney Lori Pedego added Tuesday that Martinez didn’t have any intent to steal because he could have taken more items other than the coins once Pharis was unconscious.

Pedego also argued there was no proof of sexual assault or even torture because Martinez didn’t extort or persuade Pharis to do anything. At the end of her arguments, Pedego told the jury if you use “common sense” you’ll acquit Martinez on all counts.

The prosecution then began their rebuttal. Attorney Ann Bramson quoting the defense several times in slides she entitled “outrageous accusations.”

Bramson says Pedego’s argument that Martinez didn’t have the intent to steal was refuted by his interrogation transcripts where Martinez says he took a tablet — but that was later discovered to be a Weight Watchers calculator.

Bramson reminded the jury that they didn’t have to agree on what theory leads to first degree murder as long as they all agree it’s first degree.

Jurors will be returning to the courthouse for deliberations Wednesday, June 27, 2018, at 8:30 a.m.

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