SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 27-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 30 years to life in prison for a fatal drunk driving crash that killed two of his passengers in Irvine.
Norman David Martin was convicted Aug. 11, 2021, of two counts of second-degree murder for the July 22, 2017, pre-dawn crash in a Chevrolet Corvette at Jamboree Road and Main Street.
The passengers, Jamie Lopez and Nancy Ortiz, were both 26. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Martin's attorney, Heather Moorhead of the Alternate Defender's Office, declared she had a question of his competency going forward and asked for a suspension of legal proceedings after Martin declared to Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard King that his last name was "Martian," and claiming he was being "controlled by aliens."
King noted that the legal proceedings had been held up before on the same question over the past two years and that he had been examined by psychological experts "no less than nine times."
Martin acted as his own attorney in the trial, but chose not to make an opening statement, closing arguments or question any of the witnesses.
The trial was held up at one point after Martin made an outburst in court during the proceedings about then-President Donald Trump and after being admonished for that saying he would behave since "the seed of doubt is planted," King said. Martin apparently tried to take his own life while in jail by leaping off a tier but was held back by other inmates, King said.
Martin told King that he was receiving an "immense amount of information" by "someone," who "keeps telling me I have to prove nothing."
After mentioning Microsoft founder Bill Gates and businessman Warren Buffett, he added, "I know it sounds crazy... But I can't lift my hands ... I have significantly more information."
Of the victims, "They assure me that Nancy and Jamie are sleeping and were not involved in this accident ... I'm telling you it's aliens."
After sentencing as he was being led away he said, "Please help me get in touch with Mr. Gates."
Martin's family members said the defendant has stopped answering their letters and refusing to see them when they try to visit him in jail and that his mental health has steadily eroded since he suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash. The family members also expressed their sorrow for the families of the victims.
Martin's mother, Andrea, said, "It's been a different kind of nightmare for us," and then said to her son, "Norman, stay strong, I love you so much."
Ortiz's mother, Alicia Islas-Nava, tearfully told King how much her daughter enjoyed traveling and family trips.
"She was an amazing child growing up," Islas-Nava said. "She worked so hard to get where she was, and I was so proud of her."
Ortiz's father, Richard Ortiz, told King, "You have two angels by your side," and added that while he understands what Martin's family was going through, "I can't write letters to my daughter. I can't see my daughter."
Lopez's fiancee, Brian Baumgart, told Martin, "You had an opportunity to apologize... to give a little bit of peace to these families and apologize for your actions."
Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera noted how some speakers referred to the crash as an accident.
"It wasn't an accident. It was a choice," Madera said.
Martin chose to "drink as much as he wanted," and "to allow Ms. Ortiz and Ms. Lopez to not have seat-belts on ... to drive a car 138 miles per hour and to ultimately take their lives."
King said the speed of the vehicle was "just incredible," and added, "those (crime scene) photographs ... It looked like an airplane crash ... and those horrific injuries ... This is a sad, sad day. Just so sad."
The judge said the crash had an "impact on the victim's family, but also your family as well."
King said all of the attorneys on the case worked hard over the years and that Martin had a constitutional right to defend himself as he chose.
"He had the right to be captain of his ship and guide it into an iceberg," King said. "And that's what happened in this case."
Martin hit speeds up to 138 mph seconds before the crash, according to testimony in the trial. The last recorded speed before the impact was 105 mph.
Martin's blood-alcohol level was .11 or .12, above the legal limit of .08, according to testimony.
Martin ran a red light before the two-seater struck the crown of the intersection and went airborne, slamming into three palm trees, according to prosecutors. Martin was ejected from the sports car along with his passengers and he spent about a month in a hospital, prosecutors said.
Martin had just met the victims outside of the Mesa nightclub in Costa Mesa and invited them to join him at a friend's house in Irvine. Their other friends squeezed into an Uber to go along to the party, but the driver wouldn't take any more customers, so Lopez and Ortiz crammed into the two- seater with Martin.
Martin and his victims were not wearing seat belts.