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Tulare County

Teen charged with murder of beloved California middle-school teacher

The boy was 15 at the time that 50-year-old Sergio Martin was shot dead in his home in Dinuba, California. Martin was a longtime Spanish teacher at El Monte Middle School.

A 16-year-old boy has been charged in the killing of a beloved middle-school teacher during a burglary in central California last year.

Officers found Sergio Martin, a 50-year-old teacher for the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District, dead from multiple gunshot wounds in his home in Dinuba at around 3 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2023. At the time, police described the shooting as a random act of violence and said the suspect was not a former student of Martin's.

The teenager was charged with murder and burglary, among other counts, the Tulare County District Attorney said Monday. The teen was arraigned in Tulare County Juvenile Court on Friday.

Under California law, the boy will be tried as a juvenile because he was 15 at the time of the killing. If convicted, he can only remain in custody until the age of 25.

Two young adults also charged in burglary

Two others were charged with burglary in connection to the crime, according to the district attorney's office.

Jorge Arrieta, 21, and Joseph Garcia, 20, were charged with second-degree burglary and accessory. Arrieta is also charged with having stolen property, according to the prosecutor.

The two were arrested on Friday, with Arrieta remaining in custody and arraigned on Monday. Garcia was released on bail and is scheduled to return to court on May 22 for his arraignment.

USA TODAY was working to track down attorneys for Arrieta and Garcia for comment.

Martin loved vinyl records and the Dodgers

Martin taught Spanish at El Monte Middle School for 17 years. Following his death, students and teachers at the school posted dozens of notes with letters and pictures outside his classroom. One of them said, "I am sorry," while another simply said: "We will miss you, Mr. Martin."

The educator was a dedicated fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, his colleague Chris Velasco told KFSN-TV in November.

Emilio Botello, one of Martin's close friends, said he deeply cared about his parents and students and was enthusiastic about his vinyl record collection.

"Beyond his teachings and in the classroom, he's affected many kids, but to adults that's not that easy, it's not that easy and he's done that," Botello told KFSN.

Contributing: Eric Woomer, Visalia Times-Delta

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