Victor Martinez sentenced to life in prison for Pharis murder

Victor Martinez

Victor Martinez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Monday for the rape and murder of Marilyn Pharis, in a courtroom filled with Pharis’ family and friends. Martinez did not look at those who spoke of the sadness and loss they endured as the result of his violent acts.

Martinez, an illegal immigrant with an extensive criminal history, was convicted of first-degree murder during commission of a robbery, sexual penetration and use of a deadly weapon during a jury trial that ended in late June.

In July 2015, Martinez broke into the home of Pharis, a 64-year-old veteran and Vandenberg Air Force Base employee, while she was sleeping, then beat her with a hammer and raped her. Eight days later, Pharis died in the hospital after blood clots formed in her legs.

Martinez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, had been arrested six times in the 15 months prior to the Pharis killing, according to the Santa Maria Police Department. Martinez was released from the Santa Barbara County Jail 96 hours before he attacked Pharis.

During the trial, prosecutors said Martinez beat the Santa Maria woman with a hammer and choked her multiple times. Pharis suffered a broken neck bone and severe bruising, and Martinez’s DNA was found at the scene. Martinez also admitted to police that he hit Pharis, tried to strangle her and “touched her under her underwear,” prosecutors said.