Murder suspect close to competency – Virginia Gazette


Murder suspect close to competency

By Amanda Kerr
Gazette Staff Writer

May 21, 2007

JAMES CITY — Oswaldo Martinez, the 35-year-old man charged in connection with the 2005 rape and murder of 16-year-old Brittany Binger, could be ready to stand trial by the end of the year.

According to assistant commonwealth attorney Nathan Green, Martinez, who is deaf and mute with no training in sign language, has made significant strides in learning American Sign Language and can now effectively communicate with the doctors and staff at Western State Hospital where he has spent the last two years in a program for the deaf.

The dramatic breakthrough was revealed during a competency hearing Monday in Williamsburg-James City Circuit Court. It marked the fourth time in the two years that the crime was committed that Martinez had his competency evaluated. Monday’s revelation was the first time prosecutors could see a realistic possibility of a trial.

Over the next six months Martinez will be familiarized with his attorneys to see if he can in fact communicate with them. If he can, he could be deemed competent to stand trial. The case will be reviewed on Nov. 14.

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