DRAPER, Utah (News4Utah) – Nathan Martinez wants out of prison after serving 23 years for a double murder. Wednesday, he went before a hearing officer to lay out reasons for his release.
“I made the most horrible decision a human could make you know,” Martinez told his hearing officer.
That decision when he was 17 years old cost him more than two decades behind bars.
In 1994, he shot and killed his step-mother Lauren Martinez at their Bluffdale home.
He said he was planning to runaway, steal the family car but needed cash. He walked into his step-mom’s bedroom to take items from her purse. She was asleep but then woke up.
“She said ‘Nathan what are you doing?’ and I just,” Martinez said as he paused, took deep breaths in search of words. “I raised the gun and shot her.”
Martinez said he then left the room and passed his half-sister’s bedroom. She was still asleep. He said he began thinking of what her life was going to be like without her mother. Then he shot her.
“I just friggin’ panicked again and so I just did the same thing and shot Lexi too and just ran out of the house,” he said again fighting back tears. “God, I wish I had just left.”
Martinez fled, traveling to Idaho before his arrest in Nebraska.
At the time, authorities said his murder spree was influenced by the movie “Natural Born Killers.” But his hearing officer said that was never true.
He returned to Utah and was eventually convicted of two capitol murders. He was sentenced to two life sentences with a chance of parole.
Martinez said killing his step-mother was an impulse.
“Laura was a good person,” he said. “She wasn’t the problem it was me. There was never any thought of taking any action like that.”
For the past 23 years, Martinez claimed he’s been a model prisoner, no gang ties, has a prison job and nearly earned a college degree.
“I try to look at myself then and think what were you thinking?” he said. “What was your mentality? What was your mindset other than an ignorant, stupid teenager that was acting rebellious. That’s just not me sir. I know I’ve grown. I know I’ve educated myself. I know I’ve matured in so many levels. I’m a better person than that kid was.”
His father who wished to remain anonymous was also at the parole hearing.
“The past is the past, there’s nothing you can do about it,” he told the hearing officer.
He said he was able to forgive his son for the double murders and hoped that prison would reform him. He recalled visiting his son years ago and noticed his arms were free of tattoos.
“He said (tattoos) makes it tough to get a job,” the father said. “He was thinking about what he needed to do when he got out.”
Martinez recognized he may not get out soon. But he said that won’t stop him from becoming a role model for young prisoners. He wants to pay it forward because early on, Martinez said an older prisoner befriended him and steered him away from gangs, drugs and gambling.
“If i could make a change, a positive change out of all this while here in prison,” he said. “I’m going to continue to make that change.”
The entire Board of Pardons will soon decide whether a convicted killer has changed his life while serving 23 years for a double-murder.